Amazon has expanded its backend Web services infrastructure to Australia, with a new “edge location” opening in Sydney. Amazon’s edge locations service Amazon Web Services (AWS) to end users within a particular area, making those facilities somewhat more lightweight than the full data-centers the company maintains in other locations around the world, including Tokyo and Oregon. The Edge location in Australia supports Amazon CloudFront (the company’s Web service for helping developers and businesses deliver Web content to end users) and Amazon Route 53 (a scalable Domain Name System DNS service). As with many Web services, the overall effectiveness of CloudFront and Route 53 hinge on low latency, all the more reason for Amazon to install an edge location in Australia—the company’s first official backend infrastructure on the continent. “This new location will speed up the delivery of static, streaming and dynamic content to end users in Australia,” Jeff Barr, an evangelist for Amazon Web Services, wrote in a June 19 posting on the Amazon Web Services Blog, “and will also accelerate the resolution of DNS queries that originate from within the area.” Australia might be a long way away, but Amazon opening another Web-services location suggests the company isn’t exactly in a defensive posture when it comes to providing cloud services, including Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) to customers. That’s in spite of rising competition from a number of tech giants, including Oracle and Microsoft. For example, Microsoft recently updated its Windows Azure services for developers with an IaaS layer and persistent virtual machines for running both Windows and Linux applications in the cloud. “The new IaaS service is clearly designed with at least surface knowledge of the market leaders, Amazon Services, Rackspace and others,” Forrester analyst James Staten wrote in a June 6 blog posting, “and leverages a much more mature Hyper-V as the virtualization layer.” Meanwhile, Oracle has positioned its new portfolio of cloud services as similar to those offered by Amazon. “Our cloud is elastic like Amazon’s cloud is elastic,” Oracle CEO Larry Ellison told an audience during a June 6 presentation. “Who are we most like? I guess at the platform level we’re kind of similar to Amazon.” Among Oracle’s cloud offerings are dozens of enterprise applications and a database service. As more and more companies shift their data needs from on-premises to the cloud, competition among these IT vendors for new clients will almost certainly continue to escalate. That requires the latter build new software features and data centers in order to maintain an edge.   Image: Slavoljub Pantelic/