Microsoft could be the first to launch a cloud region in New Zealand

Proposed data centre is not a guarantee that an Azure region will operate in New Zealand anytime soon, as government approval is needed.

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Galen Gruman/IDG

Microsoft could be the first major cloud provider to launch a region in New Zealand, if the Overseas Investment Office approves the vendor's project.

Currently Amazon Web Services, Google, IBM and Oracle provide services from other regions, with all having a physical presence in Australia. Gartner research VP Michael Warrilow said he expects other cloud providers to make similar announcements within the next few weeks.

The approval of a Microsoft region could mean that delays, such as the one suffered by the Parliamentary Services roll out of Office 365 to rebuild a cloud-based charities register, could be prevented.

However, as Warrilow warned, this Microsoft data centre is not a guarantee that an Azure region will operate in New Zealand — now or anytime soon. "Rather, it’s an intention and a precursor to doing so," he told Computerworld New Zealand.

"New Zealand has shown itself to be an early adopter of public cloud services. The ability to access public cloud services directly from within New Zealand amplifies current usage," Warrilow said. If an Azure region is deplotyed in New Zealand, "it will improve network performance and provide improved access to public cloud innovation for more types of usage."

Microsoft New Zealand did not disclose the size of the investment in this data centre stating that the parent company has spent billions in US dollars creating a global cloud infrastructure. It was also unable to provide a possible timeline as the region is yet to be approved.

If approved, the region would bring Azure, Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365 and Power Platform and the vendor's built-in trust and security services. The services would be accessible to public- and private-sector entities, large enterprises, and small and medium-size businesses.

Existing Microsoft customers such as telelcommunications provider Spark NZ and dairy co-operative Fonterra have indicated they would use the data centre for cloud services.

"When choosing data centre sites, we consider more than 35 weighted criteria including proximity to population centers, an ample, reliable and stable power source and multiple high capacity network connections, a large pool of skilled labour, and affordable energy rates to determine the long-term viability of each site," a Microsoft spokesperson explained when questioned about the issue suffered by data centres in New Zealand due to the risk of earthquakes.

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