Amazon Web Services gets physical with feds

By Ashley Carolan

Monday June 5, 2017

Cloud computing juggernaut Amazon Web Services (AWS) has substantially bolstered its push into the federal government marketplace, revealing on Monday that it has partnered with data centre provider NEXTDC to have its services hosted locally in Canberra.

The move to plant AWS’ services physically onto soil in the Australian Capital Territory is the strongest signal to date to Commonwealth agencies that the Canberra market is now a cornerstone play for the expanding technology services company amid the shift to digital government.

Amazon Web Services’ Andrew Phillips.

Although AWS’ cloud services have been on offer to federal buyers pretty well since the company set up shop in Australia, the decision to push ahead with a dedicated Canberra facility through NEXTDC commits to placing premium computing infrastructure literally on the doorsteps of agencies that might otherwise need to tap interstate facilities.

Known as NEXTDC C1, the ASIO accredited Canberra data centre hosting location is part of ‘AWS Direct Connect’, which (as the name suggests) offers customers dedicated direct private connections into facilities at faster speeds and lower bandwidth and network costs.

It also puts the national capital on par with AWS’ other physical points of presence in Australia in Sydney and Melbourne where ‘Direct Connect’ is available.

A big ICT infrastructure challenge federal agencies have faced over the past decade is that despite is strong agency appetite to move to secure cloud, the government dominated Canberra market has historically attracted less direct investment in horsepower than booming state capitals that have additional private sector demand for heavy weight cloud computing muscle on their doorstep.

One irony that won’t be lost on agencies or their ICT vendors is that Amazon’s physical move into Canberra comes almost a decade since the imposition of a now scrapped moratorium on new federal data centre investment that was foisted on agencies during the Rudd-era review of government ICT by Sir Peter Gershon — a move that stymied new data centre builds in the capital just as competing centres like Sydney and Melbourne fired up.

There is of course another big federal ICT review underway courtesy of the recently established Digital Transformation Agency that is once again running a ruler over $6.2 billion in federal ICT spending.

While the latest Canberra investment is undoubtedly pitched at federal agencies, AWS’ Australian public sector chief, Andrew Phillips insisted there will also be local and regional benefits.

“[It] will enable our Federal and ACT government customers to connect the hyper-scale AWS Cloud and run synchronous replication across independent zones, helping to ensure government data is managed securely – with high resilience,” Phillips said.

Meanwhile, NEXTDC’s chief executive Craig Scroggie wasted no time in pressing the point that federal agencies already have access to the new service courtesy of his company’s existing place on the federal Data Centre Facilities Supplies Panel.

The federal fibre is already there too, Scroggie noted.

“Connectivity to the protected ICON network is available at C1, allowing government agencies to connect to C1 for their data centre needs and securely access a host of additional cloud services, such as AWS,” he said.

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