Microsoft Plugs Azure Cloud Data Centre Into Janet Network

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

Dublin facility peered with Janet, the university network

Microsoft has announced universities on the Janet network will be able to connect directly into its Azure cloud data centre in Dublin, thanks to a peering project.

Janet is a private network used by UK universities. At its heart it provides its own network connections, rather than relying on the public Internet, so Janet users can enjoy better speed and security.

Now Microsoft has hooked up its Dublin data centre, it will be easier and quicker for students and professors to take advantage of Azure platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings.

JanetMicrosoft and Janet officials announced  a new strategic alliance toady.

Microsoft’s Azure cloud push

Janet has an open peering policy with other network providers, but Microsoft thinks it is offering a lot more.

“However the uniqueness of the Microsoft relationship with Janet covers access to Windows Azure IaaS and PaaS services as well as SaaS services provisioned from the Dublin data centre,” a spokesperson told TechWeekEurope.

“The peering agreement will provide, researchers, academics and students with high speed access to Microsoft Cloud services they can use for both study and their personal life including Bing, Skype, Xbox LIVE, Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Lync.”

Microsoft is hoping to boost usage of its wide array of cloud offerings, in the face of tough competition from the likes of Amazon, Salesforce and others. Just last month, Microsoft said Windows Azure will match the prices of Amazon Web Services (AWS) for commodity products like server instances and storage, an offer TechWeek saw as a loss leader.

For certain research projects, the data centre won’t be usable, especially where highly sensitive data is being processed. In April, Azure was given clearance from the UK government to handle data classifed as IL2 (Impact Level 2), which includes personal information, but it will no doubt want to get  the more stringent IL3 accreditation, as that will prove just how secure Microsoft’s Irish facility is.

But universities are excited about the prospect of greater cloud usage. “At Newcastle University, we already have over £20 million of research projects that are supported by the cloud,” said professor of computing science at Newcastle University, Paul Watson.

“However, one of the major barriers holding back further cloud adoption is the time it takes to transfer large datasets from the lab to the cloud for analysis. This new link between Janet and the Azure Cloud removes this barrier, and will allow a far greater range of research projects to fully exploit the benefits of cloud computing.”

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