Finland’s UpCloud opens new data centre in Sydney

Finnish cloud hosting company UpCloud has announced the opening of its new data centre in Sydney, Australia.

Named AU-SYD1, the facility marks UpCloud’s first data centre in Oceania. It is located in Equinix’s flagship Sydney data centre campus, SY5, which is Equinix’s largest data centre in Australia.

UpCloud CTO Joel Pihlajamaa explains that UpCloud’s proximity to Equinix’s SY5 means better latency and improved service offerings to businesses with clients in Australia and Oceania.

“We’ve had a large base of users from Australia and New Zealand using our Singapore data centre for a long time. Many of them asked us to expand our service offering to Australia,” said UpCloud CEO Antti Vilpponen on the company’s decision to establish a new facility in Australia.

“We also believe that Australian users will value a new cloud provider offering a more premium level of features, such as 100 percent uptime SLA, 24/7 technical support and personal approach,” he added.

The company launched three new data centres in New York, Madrid, and Warsaw last year. AU-SYD1 is their twelfth in the world. UpCloud also said that it hopes to launch more data centres in multiple new locations this year.

Australia’s data centre market continues to flourish

UpCloud’s forage into Sydney continues to illustrate the city’s status as one of the world’s largest data centre markets.

This week, several data centre players have made moves that would greatly contribute to Australia’s data centre ecosystem. Homegrown providers Fibre Expressway and Leading Edge Data Centres have unveiled plans to bring data centres to regional and rural areas in the country.

AU-SYD1 will be available from 31 March 2021.

Fibre Expressway is building 3 data centres for $1.5 billion in Australia

Australian network infrastructure company Fibre Expressway has announced its plan to build three data centres in the country that would cost a total of $1.5 billion.

Project Koete will see the company build three greenfield Tier IV data centres in Northwestern Australian cities Perth and Dampier, and the Northern Territory’s capital city of Darwin.

All three data centers will have a combined capacity of 20Megawatts (MW). Once completed, they will be able to serve not only Indigenous communities in the region, but also expand the cloud capacity of APAC markets, such as Sydney, Melbourne, and Singapore.

“This will be the most significant technological investment Western Australia and the Northern Territory have ever seen,” said Gary Kennedy, CEO of Fibre Expressway.

“This facility will combine the benefits of greater interconnectivity between north and western Australia and the world, encouraging greater investment in the region, and improving data security and sovereignty,” he explained.

Peter Bannister, Group Managing Director at Fibre Expressway, also said that under Project Koete, the company is partnering with wind, solar and, in the longer term, ocean and clean hydrogen providers to satisfy the need for 100% renewable energy access over time.

“We’re targeting 30 plus years’ scalability assuredness, enabling customers to plan for decades, not just years. By working with our global partner network, we’re confident Project Koete will be delivered under world-leading governance and rule-of-law standards,” he added.

An 800km subsea cable will also be constructed as part of this project, which will link Perth and Darwin, and stretch across Southeast Asia to Malaysia via Indonesia and Singapore.

The data centres are estimated to be ready for service in 2023, whereas the subsea cables are scheduled for completion by 2025.

Australia’s data centre landscape

Australia’s data centre industry is one of Asia Pacific’s strongest, with Sydney being ranked as the third largest market in the world. Its major players include Equinix, homegrown data centre provider NextDC, and homegrown telcos Telstra and Vocus Group.

Such is the booming state of the Australian market, that rural regions are not left behind either. In March, local company Leading Edge Data Centres announced its plan to roll out modular data centres throughout regional New South Wales.

India’s IFI Techsolutions expands cloud presence in Australia

Indian cloud solutions firm IFI Techsolutions, alongside Microsoft, has launched its first office in Australia.

The company has set up a new office in Hoppers Crossing, 30 minutes west from the city of Melbourne.

As a Gold Microsoft Partner, IFI Techsolutions will offer a range of next-generation tech services to help clients in their digital transformation journey. Aside from cloud solutions, their range of offerings include data center transformation, big data and analytics, DevOps, cybersecurity and compliance, and Microsoft business applications.

Citing a report by Gartner on the increase in cloud spending levels for the next 2-3 years, Ankur Garg, founder of IFI Techsolutions, explained that the current market scenario presents a huge opportunity for cloud growth and expansion.

“I am glad that we have support from a strong Microsoft ecosystem, and IFI Techsolutions is all set to expand globally,” he added.

Besides Australia, IFI Techsolutions has also launched offices in the US, UK, and United Arab Emirates.

Australia’s NextDC launches ‘first of its kind’ carbon neutrality programme

Australian data centre operator NextDC has announced the launch of a brand new data centre carbon neutrality programme, the ‘first of its kind’ in the country’s data centre market.

Named NEXTneutral, the programme marks the first carbon neutral colocation solution available in the local Australian market.

Under the programme, carbon footprint generated within NextDC’s data centres will be negated through the purchase of a portfolio of ecological projects in Australia, including the restoration of wetlands and rainforests, the protection of pristine Australian habitats such as the Great Barrier Reef, as well as supporting Indigenous culture and traditional sustainable land management practices such as cool fire burning.

The programme is also launched in conjunction with NextDC’s corporate offset partner Qantas, the national airline of Australia. Both have extended their partnership through Qantas Future Planet (QFP), a collaboration between Qantas and carbon offset solutions firm Tasman Environmental Markets.

“[NEXTneutral] is a testament to NEXTDC’s commitment to sustainable engineering and the important role offsets play in mitigating the environmental impact of energy use. NEXTneutral is evidence that big data can have a zero footprint,” commented David Young, Executive Manager of Sustainability & Future Planet at Qantas.

Craig Scroggie, CEO at NextDC, said that this move is in line with the company’s position as the first data centre operator in Australia to be certified as Climate Active by the Federal Government.

“The next step in our journey is to extend our own carbon offset programme to our customers. It’s with great excitement that we now invite everyone in our ecosystem to join NEXTneutral and offset 100% of their carbon footprint,” he added.

This Australian startup is bringing data centers to regional New South Wales

Australian company Leading Edge Data Centers (LEDC) is filling the connectivity gap in the country’s data center industry with a mass modular data center rollout.

The startup is currently embarking on a plan to establish Tier 3 data centers across regional New South Wales (NSW).

The company is set to launch a modular data center in NSW’s regional Newcastle in mid-March, followed by six more in Tamworth, Dubbo, Albury, Coffs Harbour, Wagga Wagga and Bathurst respectively before December.

This means that businesses in those regions will soon have access to the cloud and its range of services, enabling them to scale their operations more smoothly.

CEO Chris Thorpe says that his company has had the idea of a regional data center rollout for two years.

“We were watching the growth of cloud in the US and Europe, and here, and what was becoming very evident was all the focus in Australia was for that to be built in Sydney, or Melbourne,” Mr. Thorpe explained.

“That’s great, but if you live in regional Australia your access to the cloud is limited. There are issues around choice, connectivity isn’t very strong, and you have latency issues because of distance,” he continued.

Founded in 2018, LEDC aims to bridge the digital divide in Australia. The company received a $20 million funding from domestic investment firm Washington Soul Pattinson in 2020.

More data centers are expected to arrive in the states of Victoria and Queensland in 2022.

Australia’s Vault Cloud and Aruba form cloud security alliance

Australian cloud vendor Vault Cloud has announced a partnership with US-based Aruba to strengthen the company’s network control system for its public service clients.

The collaboration will see Vault Cloud leverage Aruba’s policy management platform, ClearPass to keep networks secure.

Vault Cloud’s very own Network Policy Manager as-a-Service (NPMaaS) solution will also be adopting Aruba’s Zero Trust Security offering, which enables wired and wireless devices on a network to be easily identified and assigned identity-based policies to keep corporate and campus networks safe.

“We are incredibly proud to be partnering with Vault Cloud to deliver a faster and more secure network control system for our public sector,” said Pat Devlin, Director of Aruba South Pacific (ANZ).

“The partnership will not only see the ClearPass experience further streamline user network connectivity across the public sector to those who need it most, but it will fundamentally transform how government personnel work and operate across the state,” he added.

Linton Burling, General Manager of Vault Cloud said that the partnership will enable full mobility for participating government agencies in the state of New South Wales.

“This new infrastructure is designed and tested to support these emergency service workers and government agencies to do their job wherever it may be, in their quest to help keep Australians safe,” he said.

“We are dedicated to continually enhancing our cloud solutions in response to a rapidly evolving and sophisticated IT landscape,” Mr. Burling added.

BetaShares will offer Australia’s first cloud computing ETF

BetaShares, one of the main ETF providers in Australia is now offering ETFs of cloud computing companies.

An ETF, or an exchange traded fund, is a basket of securities — bonds, commodities, stocks — that can be bought and sold in the stock market. If you invest in an ETF, you are spreading your money in a range of different stocks, thereby diversifying your investment portfolio.

Named BetaShares Cloud Computing ETF, the new ETF is now trading with the ticker code CLDD on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). As of now, major cloud-based companies including Zoom, Shopify, and Dropbox will be on the ETF.

“Cloud computing has been one of the strongest-growing segments of the technology sector, and given much of the world’s digital data and software applications are still maintained outside the cloud, continued strong growth has been forecast,” wrote BetaShares on its official website.

The company also states that by investing in a cloud ETF, investors will be able to obtain diverse and cost-effective exposure to the cloud computing industry in Australia, one that is still underrepresented in the ASX.

The ETF requires no minimum investment, and clients can buy and sell units just like any other share on the ASX. Globally, ETFs tracking the SaaS sector have outperformed the broader market in 2020. The Global X Cloud Computing ETF has climbed 63.4 per cent in 2020 and has gained 5.7 per cent since the start of 2021 (as of 17 February’s close), according to data from CMC Markets.

Infoxchange Group to build a new hub for digital transformation

The Infoxchange Group, a not-for-profit social enterprise, is developing a new Digital Transformation Hub to help Australian not-for-profits build digital capability and resilience for a post-COVID-19 world.

In response to COVID-related technology challenge, the Infoxchange Group is leading a cross-sector partnership to assist organisations on their digital transformation journey.

The Hub will combine capacity building programs, access to technology solutions, web-based resources and tailored advice to help organisations have an even greater impact.

Infoxchange Group’s Digital Technology in the Not-for-Profit Sector 2020 report illustrates that nearly two-thirds of not-for-profit organisations are less than satisfied with the way they use technology. Only 30 percent had the technology in place to easily adapt to staff working from home during COVID-19.

“COVID-19 caused enormous disruption to the way we work. It emphasised how important it is for not-for-profits to have efficient, reliable technology in place to keep supporting communities and making the biggest impact possible,” says Infoxchange CEO David Spriggs.

“The Digital Transformation Hub will address these challenges in a one-stop-shop that will empower not-for-profits to deliver services more effectively, improve staff productivity, and better serve communities in need.”

Top technology challenges identified by not-for-profits that are set to be addressed in the Digital Transformation Hub include access to affordable and fit for-for-purpose technology solutions; lack of skilled technical resources to advise on digital technology; resources and funding to assist with the implementation of digital transformation initiatives; staff and volunteer digital skills and capability.

The Community Council of Australia (CCA) and the Charities Crisis Cabinet have recognised the urgency to build digital capacity in the sector and the need for the Digital Transformation Hub, particularly for smaller less well-resourced organisations.

“As COVID-19 has so clearly highlighted, digital capacity is the key to significantly improving the productivity and effectiveness of charities.  It is the communities we serve that miss out if we do not address the digital divide between charities,” says David Crosbie, CEO of Community Council of Australia.

Cerebral Palsy Support Network recently underwent a digital transformation journey and CEO Scott Sheppard says he understands the challenges not-for-profits face.

“Moving to the Cloud has transformed our ability to work remotely and share information securely, allowing us to communicate to and provide better support for individuals and families living with cerebral palsy,’’ Scott says.

“The new Digital Transformation Hub will empower and assist not-for-profits across Australia to undertake their own digital journey and provide even better support for their clients.’’

Digitalization has emerged as the priority for many non-profits. What follows from the transformation is the need to ramp up the digital fortress as well, as data breaches targeting charities rose recently.

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Cybersecurity firm ExtraHop opens new data centre facilities in Sydney 

ExtraHop, a cybersecurity firm that specialises in cloud-native network detection and response, opened data centre facilities in Sydney to enhance access to its native security platform, Reveal(x) 360.

This means the company can also deliver reduced latency and higher availability, whilst ensuring that customers maintain data sovereignty.

“Organisations around the world are rethinking their approach to security as advanced threats like APTs and software supply chain attacks take a financial and reputational toll,” says ExtraHope Asia Pacific and Japan vice president David Sajoto.

He said that the company is committed to providing the customers with learning-backed detection and response capabilities that put public and private sector security teams back in the driver’s seat when it comes to protecting their organisations.

As such,  they serve to ensure that their customers “have access to high-availability, low-latency security capabilities that meet local standards for data sovereignty and protection”.

This is the company’s latest move in its expansion in Australia and the broader APAC region.

In August 2020, ExtraHop appointed Australian distribution partner NEXTGEN as part of its agreement to broaden its security channel in the country.

In October 2020 the company’s ExtraHop Reveal(x) 360 achieve Amazon Web Services (AWS) Security Competency Status, meaning that ExtraHop has the required technical proficiency and ability to help customers secure applications, data, and workloads on AWS.

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NVIDIA brings GeForce cloud gaming to Australia

Global chipmaking giant NVIDIA has brought its flagship cloud gaming service, GeForce NOW, to Australia.

It has partnered with Perth-based internet service provider (ISP), Pentanet, which will be joining NVIDIA’s GeForce NOW Alliance where partners work together to deliver low latency, high speed gaming experiences. Some well-known members of the Alliance include Japan’s SoftBank, South Korea’s LG UPlus, and Taiwan Mobile.

As part of the alliance, Pentanet will be hosting NVIDIA’s RTX servers that function to power game streaming, the first ISP in Australia to do so. The service will also bring real-time ray tracing to video games, a graphics rendering technique where characters in video games look more realistic and lifelike.

Aside from Australia, the service will also be arriving in Turkey and Saudi Arabia, where telcos Turkcell and Zain KSA are set to join the GeForce NOW Alliance.

Oxfam Australia responds to alerts of data breach affecting its 1.7 millions supporters 

Oxfam is trying to work out what data was accessed

Oxfam Australia, a non-for-profit aid and development organization, is investigating a suspected cyberattack that has allegedly impacted the data of 1.7 million donors.

Forensic specialists have been brought to “assist in identifying whether data may have been accessed and any impact on its supporters”.

The matter has also been reported to the Australian Cyber Security Centre and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

While it is not yet known whether any data has been compromised, Bleeping Computer earlier this week reported that a threat actor had tried to sell one of the charity’s databases.

The database is alleged to contain contact and donor information, including names, email addresses and phone numbers, for about 1.7 million Oxfam Australia supporters.

In response, Oxfam responded in a statement that these allegations are not verified, stating that IT experts “[continue] to be confirming the type of data that may have been accessed and whether any of our supporters are impacted”.

“Launching the investigation and ascertaining key facts have been our priorities, but this is a complex issue and inquiries are in their early stages,” she said.

The company updated on Feb. 9 that it is “in the process of notifying all supporters for whom we have a contactable email address”, and urged donors to contact them with any questions.

This is not the first charity data breach that happened of late. The largest woodland conservation charity in the United Kingdom, Woodland Trust, has just confirmed that it was hit with a cyberattack in December 2020.

Woodland Trust experienced disruption as many systems are offline, affecting the ability to support “certain services” for members and supporters, the company said in a statement.

Charities are especially vulnerable to hackers and other malicious elements because they are sometimes perceived as easy targets.

Some charities do not adequately invest in data security and other charities lack the resources to adequately respond to such attacks. In addition, charities often have a treasure trove of sensitive information, such as payment details, as well as personally-identifiable information about donors.

This also reinforces a recent report on the rising data breaches in Australia, which mostly involves contact information and financial details, W.Media reported.

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Oz Def Min to exit Global Switch data centre biz by 2025

The Department of Defence in Australia has reneged on its planned 2020 exit from Global Switch’s Sydney-based data centre by up to five years after plans to move all of its data from the facility fell short last year. 

The department extended its deal with the Chinese-owned facility under a $53.5 million contract last October

Defence had planned to shift all of its secret files back into a government-owned data centre at the end of its 10-year lease agreement Global Switch in September 2020, as revealed by the ABC.

The decision to leave was prompted by a purchase of half of the centre’s parent company by a Chinese consortium in 2017, despite assurances from the company that its files are secure. 

The move was slated to cost up to $200 million when planning began around three years ago.

But the new property lease gives Defence access to Global Switch’s Ultimo facility until September 2025.

Meanwhile, other federal government agencies, including he Australian Taxation Office and, more recently, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, have either moved – or are in the process of moving – out of Global Switch by 2022.

Australian Defence has also extended a separate property lease with Global Switch until September 2025 under an existing deal at a cost of $8 million.

A spokesperson told iTnews “the size of the Defence holdings made it impractical to migrate all the holdings from the data centre prior to the expiry of the Defence lease in September 2020”.

The department did, however, migrate some of its data holdings to an undisclosed “alternative data centre”.

“This was completed in mid-2020,” the spokesperson said, adding that “Defence has developed a plan to migrate its remaining holdings to cover the next three to five years, as supported by the government”.

Defence also uses other data centres, including Canberra Data Centres (CDC) for its billion-dollar enterprise resources planning (ERP) modernisation hosted on Microsoft Azure.

Asked whether sensitive data was stored at the data centre, Defence said it still “has data holdings at GSU [Global Switch Ultimo]”, adding that the facility is subject to Foreign Investment Review Board controls.

Last month, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute found that over half of all current federal government contracts were with one data centre provider, widely understood to be CDC, iTNews reported. 

“Contracts with the dominant provider totalled $620 million, or 79 percent,” it said in its ‘devolved data centre decision report’ [pdf] after analysing 87 current data centre contracts on AusTender.

Founded in 1998 and led by Chief Executive Officer John Corcoran, Global Switch, owns, operates and develops data centers in Europe and Asia Pacific. The company’s footprint currently spans about 390,000 square meters and its tenants include government organizations, mobile carriers and financial institutions, its website shows. The company posted revenue of about 439 million pounds in 2019, its annual report showed.

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South Australian government chooses Atos as cloud provider

The government of South Australia has selected German cloud and cybersecurity company Atos to support the organisation with its digital transformation journey.

In a three-year agreement signed by both parties, the South Australian government agencies will leverage Atos’ Managed Platform Services (MPS) to deliver better data processing and cloud migration solutions.

Mike Green, Managing Director of Atos Australia, said that the company is “proud” to be chosen as a trusted partner of the government.

“We believe that hyperscale Cloud services can make a different kind of public service possible. We are excited to transfer that knowledge, experience and deep insights to embark on this journey towards a safe and citizen-centric future in South Australia,” he added.

South Australia’s capital city, Adelaide, is the fifth most populous city in Australia and is consistently ranked as one of the most liveable cities in the world.

Earlier in January, the government outlined a bold and ambitious tech strategy for the South Australian Government that brings together technology, cybersecurity and digital services.

The government is actively collaborating and partnering with agencies to achieve positive outcomes for the state. These include: developing a more resilient and innovative cyber security industry centred in Adelaide’s innovation hub, Lot Fourteen, through the Australian Cyber Collaboration Centre (A3C); and addressing and reducing the cyber and digital skills gap by developing education, training and pathways through cyber security traineeships for government, development of cyber school curriculum, and other skills growth activities.

Another initiative includes to improve online accessibility of government services for people living with disadvantage or a disability and improve the state’s cyber security posture by implementing the South Australian Cyber Security Framework (SACSF) across government and improve the industry’s awareness of the SACSF.

Netskope welcomes cybersecurity experts to the team amid Asia Pacific expansion

Netskope, a leading security cloud provider, announced their expansion into Queensland and Northern Territory regions of Australia under the leadership of Michael Kontos, their new Regional Sales Manager.

As part of this expansion, Netskope has opened an office on Queen Street in the Brisbane central business district, where they will offer training and professional accreditation for partners and end-users.

“Michael is joining at a perfect time when we are seeing unprecedented demand for the Netskope Security Cloud platform across the region,” said Tony Burnside, Vice President for Asia Pacific at Netskope.

Mr. Kontos has ten years of experience in the industry, most recently with F5 Networks, where he served as Territory Account Manager for two years and Riverbed Technology prior to that. This appointment follows the recent addition of David Fairman, former CSO of National Australia Bank, as the newest member of Netskope’s CSO team.

“Enterprises throughout the Queensland and Northern Territory regions are benefiting from digital transformation and finding that this has precipitated a massive need to adapt their security programs,” said Mr. Kontos.

Three more team members have also been added to Netskope, including Richard Batchelar, coming from Datacom with more than 25 years of experience in the cybersecurity industry, and Shaun Chaney, coming from The Instillery with seven years of experience, joining as account team members in New Zealand.

Additionally, Michael Coleman joins from FireEye with over years of experience in the cybersecurity industry, as a channel manager in Sydney. And Brett Smith, coming from F5 Networks with more than 20 years of experience in the IT sector, joins the Solutions Architect team in Brisbane.

Recently, Netskope revealed more expansion plans into Asia Pacific, with three new data centers in India. The latest data centers will extend the private cloud security network into Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai to meet unprecedented demand in the country.

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Stuart Crowley

Editor, W.Media

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