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Mac Tel subsidiary launches cloud service

Plan B: put the cloud at arm’s length

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It turns out that Macquarie Telecom wasn’t just supporting its IntelliCenter services when it released research last year citing jurisdictional risk as a problem for cloud computing customers.

Ninefold, a developer-targeted cloud service launched at arm’s-length as an independent subsidiary of Mac Tel, also happily cites jurisdictional risk as a reason to pitch all-Australian cloud computing.

After a month of social media buzz-creation, Ninefold launched today with a round of media interviews – and among the dot-points of the pitch is jurisdictional risk.

Managing director Peter James said that there is an emerging user concern at how America’s Patriot Act might apply to Australian data stored on US cloud services. But America isn’t the only jurisdiction in question. He also cited Singapore as a jurisdiction which could pose legal challenges for Australian companies, if they found themselves in dispute under a contract governed by its laws.

Other key points Ninefold cited are its Australian location, which reduces the latency of an ocean-crossing (although this writer remains bemused by the company’s website claim that it has “the only local solution” for cloud storage – the qualification is that it is the only provider offering storage access without full virtual machine pricing); a fully self-service model; its Macquarie Telecom parentage; and its focus on social media as a contact point, which he said creates a community that its customers can always reach.

When asked by The Register whether the arm’s-length model doesn’t also leave the parent company free to cut Ninefold loose at minimum risk to itself, James said his focus, and that of his team, was wholly on Ninefold. He also said that the separate launch allowed Ninefold to focus on target customers that are well outside Macquarie Telecom’s usual scope – web-centric startups, social media companies, and businesses that want to work on an entirely self-service model.

Developer advocate Lachlan Hardy outlined Ninefold’s twofold approach to attracting software developers. In particular, he said, API access will be valuable for that user base, since their software should be able to interact invisibly with the cloud service – either to call on its computing resources directly from the application, or to access storage.

For API access to computing, Hardy said the company offers an Amazon’s E2 cloud service. Storage API access, currently incomplete and in beta, will be Amazon S3 compatible.

The service is currently hosted in parent Macquarie Telecom’s Intellicenter. Over time (and if demanded by customers), the in-build Mac Tel data centre at Eastern Creek may be called into service for redundancy. Currently, the Ninefold cloud service offers a per-month three-nines availability SLA. ®

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