Regional businesses are significant contributors to Australia’s economy but must contend with many challenges from which their metropolitan area counterparts are largely spared: fire, drought, flood and, most recently, a mouse plague.
They are also technological disadvantaged. Their metro-area counterparts are enjoying the benefits of cloud computing services delivered from data centres operated in capital cities by hyper-scale cloud service providers like IBM, but connectivity issues limit regional businesses’ ability to take advantage of these.
IBM ANZ Cloud Hybrid business leader Wes Allen says IBM is able to provide its cloud services wherever customers want to locate them, not only from a capital city data centre.
“IBM is different from other hyper-scale cloud providers by taking a hybrid cloud first approach. What that means is giving our customers the ability to run their workloads wherever those workloads run best, and this is particularly significant development for regional organisations” Mr Allen said.
He said IBM has a range of valued added services that give customers choice. “We provide services and tools to allow customers to put workloads where they run best; the ability to secure environments that might have a combination of private cloud, co-location and public cloud, and the ability to manage those environments consistently, the ability to create an architecture that works well in a regional context.”
Central to this capability is IBM’s Cloud Satellite technology.
“We’ve developed Cloud Satellite to offer consistent management and the ability to deploy applications to an edge location or in ruggedised broom closet that might exist in a regional location,” Mr Allen said.
“It allows organisations to have the management capability and the consistency in operations that cloud provides but have the workload running wherever it runs best.”
This approach is well-suited to meeting the needs of regional businesses, and to better serve these customers, IBM has formed a partnership with Leading Edge Data Centres.
Mr Allen said the partnership with Leading Edge is a go-to-market relationship. “We’re looking for clients that we would provide joint service to. They will consume our services according to what they want.
“They may choose to have Leading Edge as the integrator or IBM as an integrator for all the services, or they may choose to contract separate. The partnership exists so we can create a combined front and offer the benefits to organisations in a consistent way,” he said.
Leading Edge Data Centres (LDC) plans to build 26 data centres in regional Australia and according to chief executive and founder Chris Thorpe, connectivity is a major barrier to the use of capital city data centres and cloud services.
“You don’t find many people in Dubbo using cloud-based services, because the connectivity can be up and down on a daily basis, depending on whether the carrier’s having a good day or not,” he said.
Also, for many businesses the cost of connectivity and the latency associated with using a capital city data centre can make use of public cloud services unviable.
“The further away you are from Sydney, the cost of connectivity tends to increase quite significantly. So, realistically, regional businesses are operating with their hands tied behind their back,” Mr Thorpe said.
Leading Edge’s first data centre is operational in Newcastle, and it has approval for others in Coffs Harbour, Tamworth, Dubbo, Walgett, Albury and Bathurst in NSW and has plans for data centres in Victoria and Queensland. Mr Thorpe said all were planned as unmanned facilities, rated tier three and with 75 racks and 375 kilowatts of power.
One of its customers for its Newcastle data centre, Cordel, typifies the issues facing regional businesses. It uses train-mounted LIDAR and sensors and artificial intelligence to automate monitoring of rail infrastructure. Its operations are compute and data intensive. Cordel chief technology officer Aaron Hoye said: “Cordel’s clients include critical infrastructure operators with strict requirements for data sovereignty.
“We are placing a significant portion of our AI compute in the data centre for the proximity to our headquarters and data, as well as to have a level of cost and control over the hardware that is not possible with public cloud,” Mr Hoye said.
This article was produced in partnership with IBM as a member of the InnovationAus Editorial Leadership Council.
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