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Microsoft talks up its new cloud region to New Zealand's defence industry

Microsoft talks up its new cloud region to New Zealand's defence industry

Comparisons drawn between NZ Defence Force's "XIE concept" and US JEDI project

Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft is pushing its plans to build a new datacentre region, based in Auckland, to the local defence industry, positioning it as superior to what it called "in-country" offerings.

Speaking at the IDEAS2020 virtual event last week, Microsoft senior account executive Jon Ragg and Azure specialist Fiona Mcleod, said the project, which still required Overseas Investment Office approval, was a "very major thing" for both Microsoft and New Zealand.

While much detail still had to remain under wraps, the pair did share some new information about delivery plans and benefits.

Ragg said traditionally customers moved to the cloud when exiting their own datacentres.

Many organisations were not good at managing tin, he said, and organisations could find themselves lumbered with aging gear. End of support and skills shortages were other drivers.

The traditional next steps were to shift to an in-country infrastructure as a service (IaaS) provider or to a cloud vendor.

Customers that chose Azure often did so because it allowed easy access to other adjacent advanced technologies, such as cognitive services.

"Typically you can't do that yourself or access it in in-country datacentres," Ragg said.

Fiona Mcleod and Jon Ragg (Microsoft)Credit: Supplied
Fiona Mcleod and Jon Ragg (Microsoft)

Security was another issue, he said, citing the recent DDoS attacks against the the NZX and other organisations. Shifting to the cloud effectively meant organisations were making Microsoft responsible for managing the response to such events.

Ragg said one local customer called after attacks on the New Zealand Stock Exchange and others looking for DDoS protection. The Microsoft engineer told them that because their website was in Azure it was already being protected. 

"That was Microsoft's’ job."

Cloud also helped ease some of the traditional trade-offs between accessibility and security because it obviated a lot of the additional customer protocols that limited availability.

Organisations that made the shift also found it easy to spin up and down test environments to support DevOps and Agile methods.

Sustainability was also a growing concern across the carbon footprint of IT, vehicles and buildings.

Mcleod said the Azure cloud platform globally supported the US Defence Department's joint enterprise defence infrastructure (JEDI) platform, which was based around key requirements for defence organisations.

These were primarily in mission support, in the field, the ability to scale up with information synchronised in real time across the landscapes of air land sea and space.

The US$10 billion JEDI project has been mired in dispute since the contract was awarded to Microsoft last October.

AWS argued there had been undue influence from the very top, President Trump, who had been fighting running disputes with AWS founder Jeff Bezos since before his election in 2016.

Jeff Bezos (Amazon)Credit: Supplied
Jeff Bezos (Amazon)

Last week a reevaluation confirmed the award, but AWS said it was not backing down and the contract remained on hold.

Asked in question time about the New Zealand Defence Force's "XIE concept", also in Azure and delivered with Datacom, the Microsoft pair confirmed there were similarities with the US's JEDI programme.

The "X" in XIE stands for "anywhere" – deployed in the cloud, Stack or ship and forward deployed even down to a backpack as a subset of what runs in "big Azure".

XIE now appears to be out of the lab and into production, in a $118 million rollout.

Read more on the next page...


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Tags MicrosoftazuredefenceCloudJoint Enterprise Defence InfrastructureJEDIdatacentre region

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