Cloud Computing goes local

Area9's Cloud Services inner sanctum

Steve Davis in geek heaven, getting up close and personal with the Area9 servers (and air conditioning)

The Wet season is upon us which means more clouds.

But today’s post is about virtual clouds where more and more of us are storing our data and software these days so that we can be more mobile, use cheaper, dumber computers and devices (because all the thinking and computer ‘grunt’ is done in the ether) and keep IT costs and maintenance tasks to a minimum (when your software is in the cloud, somebody else keeps it up to date).

Some practical uses of cloud computing, as it is known when you have data or software stored on the web instead of on your physical computers on site, in the Top End include:

  • A small retailer using an online version of their accounting software so their Point Of Sale and accounting tasks are all bundled together and accessed via a web browser
  • Tradies using online calendars so they can rearrange jobs and schedules via their phones on building sites
  • Government departments or private firms using pay-as-you-go software licensing so that as staff numbers fluctuate throughout the year, they only need to pay for the software ‘seats’ they need on a month-by-month basis

However, there is one element of cloud computing that can take us by surprise: Have you ever stopped to wonder where you data is being stored?

That’s what makes these new, local clouds so interesting, and why NT Business minister, Rob Knight, launched a local offering yesterday.

Area9 Cloud Computing

Area9 has been around a while now, providing IT support to many Top End businesses.

Last week, I was granted a sneak peek at their new Cloud Computing centre, based in concrete bunkers with earthquake, thief and fire proofing that make Fort Knox look a little flimsy.

And did I mention the state-of-the-art coolers for the equipment? I’ll be making friends with anyone I can from Area9 so we can hold briefings inside the bunker when I am around during the hottest, most humid days of the Wet!

I also hear Power and Water will tap them on the shoulder during power blackouts because they have enough backup generation capacity to power half of Sydney for three weeks – well, so it seems.

Despite all this wizardry and uber geekness, there is one factor that has escaped most of us when considering cloud computing; does our data cross international borders?

Simon Watt from Area9 went to great pains to explain how for many businesses, especially those holding certain private records and financial records, actually need to keep that data housed within Australia and, in some cases, within the Territory.

This local aspect of cloud computing might become more compelling for more Top End businesses as compliance awareness grows and the availability of affordable cloud plans through reputable local firms such as Area9.

You can read more about Area9’s Cloud Services here.


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