Microsoft releases Dynamics 365 Business Central in Australia and New Zealand

Microsoft will today launch its Dynamics 365 Business Central service in Australia and New Zealand, targeting small and medium businesses with the cloud-based package designed specifically to help them manage finances, operations, sales and customer service.

“Business Central also serves as an easy upgrade opportunity for businesses which have outgrown their entry level accounting systems and legacy ERP,” said Microsoft, which cited new research revealing that although many local SMBs are facing challenging business conditions, almost half are expecting to grow in the coming 1-2 years and recognise the impact that intelligent business software can have on operations.

The survey of 300 Australian SMBs found that 74 per cent believed increasing the customer base is the best way to grow the business, with 60 per cent also listing maintaining and growing existing customer segments as a priority.

“They also recognised that meeting customer expectations is a key driver for digital transformation,” said Microsoft. “However, fewer than half of Australia’s SMBs are making use of business application software – signalling an opportunity gap. SMBs that exploit the efficiency and insight dividend that comes from well-designed business solutions which help them respond to shifting customer needs and expectations will be best placed for success.”

The firm said forward thinking SMBs are now making a move, noting that a third of survey respondents are already or are planning to evaluate their business software options over the next 12 months.

Early adopters will have a clear advantage, according to Michael O’Keefe, Business Applications Group Lead for Microsoft Australia.

“Australian SMBs are looking to grow. They recognise the value that business software can have in terms of making them more efficient and responsive to customer needs. business Central has been designed specifically for these organisations,” he said.

IBM picks up A$1b tech partnership deal with Australian Federal Government

The Australian Federal Government has awarded IBM a new A$1 billion five-year whole of government contract to be a major technology partner

Announced by The Hon. Michael Keenan MP, Minister for Human Services and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Digital Transformation, the agreement is a cross-brand solutions partnership involving IBM hardware, software and cloud-based solutions, and includes joint innovation programs in quantum, cybersecurity, and research aimed at furthering the government’s digital transformation agenda.

IBM Quantum 1 IBM classed the agreement, led by the Digital Transformation Agency, as the highest value contract negotiated by the Australian Government. “It will deliver significant savings over the next five years and supports Australia’s goal to become one of the top-three digital governments in the world by 2025,” the firm added.

Under the partnership, all government agencies can access the financial benefits and technologies. For the major agencies that currently partner with IBM – Department of Human Services (DHS), the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), and the Department of Defence (DOD) – the agreement improves the current arrangements, offering them the autonomy and flexibility to change the profile of their technology over the next five years.

“The Whole of Government agreement reflects the growing importance of technology to the government’s transformation agenda,” said IBM ANZ MD David La Rose. “For agencies it will be more simple and cost efficient to engage with IBM. While our technologies make it possible for government to delivery smarter, integrated, always-on digital services for citizens.”

Macquarie Telecom bags A$100m NBN contract to deliver business-grade voice, data capabilities

Macquarie Telecom has signed a six-year agreement valued at more than A$100 million, with NBN Co, to provide telecommunications and data services to Australia’s business community.

The deal – which will see the enterprise telco creating 50 new jobs – combines NBN Co’s purpose-built network infrastructure with Macquarie’s stand-out customer service standards.

Macquarie Telecom billed ‘Business class NBN by Macquarie Telecom’ as a highly-specialised, dedicated offering.

Key features include:

  • Access to Macquarie’s full portfolio of voice, internet, data and SD-WAN products designed for business, delivered over NBN Co’s Multi-Technology-Mix, including fibre builds on customer request
  • Dedicated Australia-based NBN service delivery, assurance and support staff
  • Coast-to-coast access to all sites in Australia, unlocking the potential of businesses no matter where they choose to operate.

“Australian organisations have long demanded greater capability and value than they have traditionally received from last century telcos; they want services and support to match their innovative ambitions,” said  Macquarie Telecom Group executive Luke Clifton. “Business class NBN by Macquarie Telecom combines NBN Co’s national infrastructure with our superior technologies, like SD-WAN to deliver to these demands.

“[It] elevates Macquarie to tier one telco status,” said Clifton.

tto“Our partnership is an opportunity for customers to develop their NBN-readiness plan with our help. The NBN access network will touch every business in Australia now or in the near future,” he said.

“Those organisations which capitalise will have a future-proof investment through which they can meet today’s business needs, while securing long-term choice for their organisations. We’re taking an untelco, proactive approach to the NBN access network, where other telcos are using it as a last resort and not putting customers first.”

Business class NBN by Macquarie Telecom will feature NBN Co’s suite of business grade products, including asymmetrical (TC4), symmetrical (TC2) and Enterprise Ethernet capabilities, delivered over a virtual network-to-network (v-NNI) link.

Macquarie’s NBN services will be available to all new and existing customers – comprising the Australian corporate sector – and will be managed by Macquarie’s dedicated and locally-based NBN support team, creating 50 new jobs in the process as part of the deal.

“We welcome today’s announcement from Macquarie to launch business-grade services through the NBN access network and look forward to working with the company to deliver to Australian businesses,” said NBN chief customer officer Paul Tyler.

“Our multi-technology model also provides us with the flexibility to deliver the rollout at scale and pivot the mix of our access technologies where it makes sense in order to support organisations with higher bandwidth requirements,” said Tyler. 

“High-speed connectivity has been prohibitive for many businesses in the past, especially in outer metro or regional centres,” said Clifton.

“Price gouging has been common. Access to cloud and internet-based applications has been near-impossible for some,” he added. “The rollout of the NBN access network brings real competition to these markets for the very first time, allowing our customers to realise the benefit of the NBN Co’s investment in its networking infrastructure.”

Time to face rise of Smart China’s innovation power, says Huawei

Huawei Technologies Australia Chairman John Lord AM has used a speech delivered at the National Press Club in Canberra to try to dispell what he classed as myths around the way the Shenzhen-based firm operates, warning his audience also that “there is no doubt more Huaweis are coming, we can’t pretend the rise of smart China isn’t happening.”

The company, which has been the subject of repeated skepticism on the part of some Western governments, including Australia, during major tender procedures, operates in 170 countries, generating a global revenue approaching US$100 billion per year.

Most recently, rumours surfaced around a potential ban on Huawei in terms of telco vendors being considered by the Coalition government to submit tenders for the construction of 5G mobile networks.

qqqq“We lead the global patents for 5G technology and will spend US$700 million this year alone on 5G development. Australia shouldn’t miss out on this world-leading technology,” said Lord.

“In saying no to one of the leading 5G suppliers in the world, what are we doing? This is not just a tough political decision. This is a long-term technology decision that could impact our growth and productivity for generations to come.”

“As Huawei’s other independent directors John Brumby and Lance Hockridge and I stated in our letter to MPs last week, Huawei is the world’s number one telecom infrastructure provider, working with 45 of the top 50 international telecom operators, including Vodafone and BT in the UK, Telus in Canada, Spark in New Zealand, and Telefonica and Deutsche Telecom across Europe,” Lord added. “These global giants rely on our technology and employees for their business survival.”

He emphasized that carriers in Australia hade been using Huawei equipment for about 15 years. “There has never been any issue that could affect national security. 5G is a natural evolution from 4G, just like 4G was for 3G.”

“Of course there will be great improvement and changes but the network fundamentals do not change at all. So the question is, if Huawei can deliver 4G to Australia already why can’t it do 5G? We know the bar is higher for us because of our Chinese heritage,” Lord said.

In addition, Lord said that both the UK and Canada, Huawei had set up and run, at its own cost, government-endorsed evaluation facilities using security-cleared testing personnel.

“We are progressing a similar solution for New Zealand. we are also creating a briefing centre and evaluation centre in Brussels for anyone to use,” he said. “The UK government, like authorities in practically all the 170 countries where Huawei operates, are worried about cybersecurity threats. Huawei shares these concerns. With traditional British pragmatism, however, the UK government, along with Canada and New Zealand have chosen to check, rather than speculate.”

Global supply chain

“Huawei is Chinese because we are headquartered in China. But our products are made up of components from all around the world, as are all our competitors’ product,” Lord pointed out.

“When Huawei was excluded from the NBN, Alcatel Lucent, now Nokia, became the sole supplier of the fibre technology product GPON. That product is manufactured barely a kilometre down the road from Huawei’s facility in Shanghai,” he added. “Our supply chains are global, our production lines are similar. Huawei or no Huawei, much of the 5G equipment will continue to be made in China.”

Lord said for too long the company had been reluctant to be loud and boastful in public, and hesitant to engage its detractors in debate. “We have come a long way in opening up and talking publicly since I first joined the company but we haven’t come far enough,” he added. “[But] in the end mud sticks so it is time to speak out.”

Myth 1: We get cheap loans or lines of credit from Chinese banks. Wrong, in fact 80% of every dollar of our financing comes from non-Chinese global banks, two of these are Australian banks.

Myth 2: We have a communist party cell that runs Huawei. Yes, there is a communist party branch in Huawei, as there is one in Walmart, Nokia, Samsung and I assume the BHPs and Rio Tintos and any other large company operating in China, it’s the law. In fact three out of four foreign joint ventures in China have a branch. But that branch has no say in our operations. It meets in non-working hours and looks after staff social issues and activities. It has nothing to do with the management of company and is run by a retired employee of the company.

Myth 3: Under Chinese National Intelligence Law, Huawei has to cooperate and collaborate in intelligence work. The law actually contains safeguards that discharge individuals and organisations from providing support that would contradict their legitimate rights and interests. And that law has no legitimacy outside China. We obey the laws of every country in which we operate in. In Australia we follow Australian laws. To do otherwise would be corporate suicide.

Myth 4: The UK Government regrets having Huawei in the UK. I think George Osbourne, the then UK Chancellor best summed it up when said “There are some western Governments that blocked Huawei from making investments, not Britain, quite the opposite” and more recently The UK Governments National Cyber Security Centre’s “on the record” support for Huawei lead to the headline “UK cyber security agency sticks with China’s Huawei..” in the UK’s Daily Telegraph.

Myth 5: Huawei is asking to do something here that China won’t allow foreign companies to do in China. False, Nokia and Ericisson are both undertaking 5G work in China. In fact in April this year Nokia won a big contract with China Mobile for 13 city metro & 2 provincial backbone networks which will form part of China Mobile’s 5G build.


Voda to light up first mobile site under Victoria’s Regional Rail Connectivity Project.

Vodafone Australia is poised to switch on its first new mobile site under the Victorian Government’s Regional Rail Connectivity Project (RRCP).

The telco said the first site built under the RRCP agreement – located in Kilmore East, along the line linking Seymour and Melbourne – is slated to light up this month, with the Kilmore East one scheduled to go live on 30 June.

It will provide additional coverage and capacity to Vodafone customers, and more choice to commuters travelling on the Seymour line, the firm added, noting it has also started building a new site at Harcourt on the Bendigo line – marking the official half-way point for sites to be delivered by the carrier as part of the RCCP.

Vodafone CTO Kevin Millroy said that with growing regional commuter numbers, the Victorian Government had taken an ideal approach to boosting network coverage for V/Line commuters.

uuu“The project perfectly demonstrates the benefits of a strategy that favours infrastructure sharing – leaving behind the all-too-familiar approach of awarding funding to one dominant carrier, and putting the best interests of consumers at the forefront,” he said.

 “Trips taken by V/Line customers increased by 9.2 per cent in just one year, with patronage on the Seymour line increasing by 7.2 per cent over the last four years,” Millroy said.

“The sites being built by Vodafone under the RRCP, including our first live site at Kilmore East, will help boost mobile coverage and capacity for Vodafone’s customers travelling along the Seymour line, while creating opportunities for other carriers to do the same for their customers.”

Vodafone, which will lead the build of 11 new mobile sites and install its equipment on an additional 12 sites, said the new locations will help supercharge its mobile network along train lines to Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Seymour and Traralgon.

Millroy said the carrier had invested more than A$130 million in its network across Victoria, adding some 150 new sites and upgrading about 1,000 existing sites between 2015 and 2017.

“The Victorian Government’s approach for the Regional Rail Project is one that Vodafone believes should be held up as best practice for future co-investment projects,” he said. “It is a great demonstration of how all three carriers can work together in the best interests of consumers.”

ALP to introduce NBN service guarantee if elected

If elected, a Shorten Labor Government will establish an NBN Service Guarantee to deliver more uptime,  and greater oversight of the national broadband network, according to Michelle Rowland, Shadow Minister for Communications and Member for Greenway.

According to Rowland, the proposed service guarantee will use a raft of new regulatory settings including penalties, to deliver less downtime as well as greater accountability of NBN Co itself, flagging  this as “one of the biggest complaints about the NBN.”


Equinix hooks up Australia Singapore sub cable as ASC extends access

The Vocus-owned Australia Singapore Cable will be accessible in Equinix’s International Business Exchange data centres in Singapore as well as in six Australian metros, including the Cable Landing Station in Perth and several points of presence in Sydney and Melbourne.

“It was extremely important for Equinix to work with Vocus to ensure the Australia Singapore Cable will have points of presence in as many of our IBX data centres as possible across the country,” Equinix Australia MD Jeremy Deutsch told Telecom Times.

Equinix Australia MD Jeremy Deutsch

“The subsea cable industry is experiencing explosive growth driven by exponential increases in data traffic, including a massive expansion of video, social, e-commerce and other consumer traffic,” Deutsch said, noting a key strategic focus for the company around partnering on new projects that offer its customers improved access to the expanding global subsea cable network

According to Equinix, business between Australia and Singapore is rising sharply as Singapore’s growth is speeding up and that nation increasingly serves as a pivotal Asian trade, logistics and manufacturing hub.

The interconnection specialist said the 4,600 kilometre ASC will add more PoPs to Equinix facilities in Singapore, Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide and Brisbane. “Together with the CLS in Perth, the extended access will enable Equinix to meet customer demand for interconnection and networking capabilities with businesses between Australia and Southeast Asia,” the firm said.

The expanded ASC connection follows Equinix’s completion of the Metronode purchase, which ramped up its Australian data centre footprint to four new markets in Perth, Canberra, Adelaide and Brisbane – and additional facilities in Sydney and Melbourne.

‘The purchase of Metronode has enabled Equinix to expand to Perth in a time when the need for businesses to access subsea cables is growing rapidly,’ said Deutsch. “Right now, we are focusing on our integration work with the team at Metronode. Also, the phase three expansion of our Melbourne data centre (ME1) is scheduled for completion in the third quarter of 2018.”

Equinix said the level of global data traffic is expected to reach 3.3 zettabytes by 2021 as almost every byte makes contact with a subsea cable with cloud service providers, network service providers, content providers and enterprises pushing to move data globally in real time.

“With the vast majority of global business sending data via subsea cables, it is a priority for Equinix to provide our customers in Australia with unparalleled connectivity to the Southeast Asia region to support their digital transformation and business expansion,” added Deutsch.

He said the benefits of new subsea cable systems multiplied when they are interconnected to and through Equinix. “In Australia, connecting our rich ecosystem of 275+ cloud service providers and 155+ networks to the ASC cable provides cost and latency advantages for our customers and an immediate marketplace of users of the cable for providers like Vocus.”

Moving forward, Equinix flagged that its key focus will center on building momentum to meet the rapidly increasing need for subsea cables through data centre design, partnerships and acquisitions.

“The Vocus terrestrial network has vast reach throughout Australia, New Zealand, and now into Asia,” said Vocus CEO Kevin Russell. “Combining the extensive interconnection ecosystems in Equinix with the far-reaching Vocus network, we will provide customers with easy and low-cost access to all of their partners from Singapore to major metropolitan cities in Australia.”

Key Facts

• The ASC is a 4,600-kilometre subsea cable that will connect Singapore and Australia and is expected to be completed and operational by Q1 FY19. The new pathway from Western Australia to Southeast Asia, and additional capacity will also serve to boost the strength of Australia’s Internet landscape.

• With direct access to ASC in Singapore and Australia, Equinix customers will be able to reap the benefits of interconnection to global markets and ecosystems through direct and private access to some 275 cloud providers, and a raft of service providers and business partners.

• Connecting in six metropolitan cities in Australia, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Canberra, Adelaide and Brisbane, the ASC cable will immediately provide more than 155 networks to enable customers to do business across the region.

• Current submarine cable projects that Equinix is engaged with include: SSCN (California – Sydney); AEConnect-1 (New York – London); Hibernia Express (New York – London); C-Lion1 (Germany – Finland); Trident (Australia – Indonesia – Singapore); Globenet (Florida – Brazil); Asia Pacific Gateway (China – Hong Kong – Japan – South Korea – Malaysia – Taiwan – Thailand – Vietnam – Singapore); Hawaiki Cable (U.S. – Australia – New Zealand); Gulf Bridge International Cable System (Middle East – Europe); FASTER (U.S. West Coast – Japan); Seabras-1 (New York – Sao Paulo); Monet (Florida – Brazil), Eastern Light (Nordic region), MAREA (U.S East Coast – Spain), BRUSA (U.S East Coast – Brazil) and ASC (Australia – Singapore), the newest project announced today.