Australia’s National Broadband Network – Elevating the Cloud to New Heights

 

By Tony Simonsen

If you were looking for a physical metaphor for the rampant digitisation of every aspect of our lives, it would be hard to ignore the fact that Equinix’s newest Sydney based data centre facility was originally designed and used as a government paper store.

While, in essence the facility will still store huge amounts of data, internally the building has undergone an extreme overhaul. The volumes of paper once piled into archive boxes have made way for racks and racks of servers. Data still lines the walls and fills the floor space but not in the traditionally visible way.

An inside view of SY3, Equinix's newest data centre in Sydney, Australia
An inside view of SY3, Equinix’s newest data centre in Sydney, Australia

The evolution of ‘the cloud’ has enabled us to shift and store data like never before, but the Federal Government’s incoming $27.5bn National Broadband Network (NBN) will raise the bar, enabling Australians to exchange and utilise data in unprecedented sizes and speeds.

Like the shift from paper to bytes, the acceleration of change is happening in blitzkrieg fashion and the leaps in technology adoption leave us reeling when we realise how far we have come in such a short space of time.

In 2009 only 41.5% of businesses had a web presence, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The advent of the NBN into Australia will change all that, ensuring that as a nation, we are ahead of the curve in terms of online capability compared to most other countries in the world. The digital economy opportunities are poised to be disruptive and vast.

Think of the transformative effects technology has had on our day to day tasks in the last few years. From banking, conducting borderless business meetings, creating financial records and operating a business on a global scale.

According to research from Kleiner Perkins, 70% of all Internet users are expected to have 5 or more devices, with 15 billion devices added over the next 3-5 years.

I can do my personal banking in 10 minutes online after dinner with my family, and many of my business meetings now take place over conference calls or videoconferencing facilities. I still travel overseas occasionally as nothing beats a face-to-face meeting but it’s not as necessary as it once would have been.

Yet while these enhancements have expedited constraints in our lives, increasing amounts of information and the changing nature of business means that we have found ourselves in a bottleneck.

Our broadband is not up to the task of handling the amount of information we now use and need on a daily basis.

Cisco estimated recently that Australia will devour 708 petabytes of data monthly in 2016, more than 7 times as much than today.

Technology as the Economic Transformer

The NBN will enable employees Australia-wide to utilise cloud based content and services in innovative ways that will directly improve business efficiency – ultimately benefiting the bottom line.

As our communication efficiencies improve, media exchanges will be increasingly video based.

This will transform a raft of government, business and social exchanges.

In the home we will be able to download movies and other entertainment in seconds rather than indulging in the world wide wait of current downloads.

Remote Australians will have the same access to the internet that those living in capital cities radically altering business and social opportunities.

Healthcare will be enhanced in disruptive ways that will provide improvements and benefits to both patients and medical practitioners which could become world leading in terms of distance medicine innovation.

Borderless Business

The NBN will also mean that businesses have access to a wider pool of employees and resources right across Australia. Major multinationals may see this as an opportunity to setup satellite offices to utilise the emerging markets and regions of rural and regional Australia. Over time, we may even see some of the bigger firms relocating outside the metro areas too, itself carrying a number of benefits none less than reduced overhead costs, as well as access to space and resources.

For Equinix this means we are in a strong position to support the set up of big business operations in rural Australia, which will in turn help these communities. Recently Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy encouraged US based businesses to build their data centres in Australia, a move we strongly encourage.

History has shown that the faster our internet becomes the more content we consume. Companies are going to have to reconsider their storage needs and whether they have the ability to store all this information themselves or if it’s time to look at alternatives.

Outside view of SY3, Equinix’s newest data centre in Sydney, Australia.

While the NBN is currently not slated to be complete until 2018 companies should be considering this aspect of their operations now in an effort to future-proof their operations – after all 90% of the world’s data has been created in the last 2 years.

The NBN will increase capabilities of the internet for all Australians; as individuals, businesses, international companies and government agencies. As our access becomes easier our content creating and consumption will rapidly and vastly increase.

A new national high speed infrastructure will accelerate the capabilities of ‘the cloud’ increasing productivity and the ability to reach your market. For the cloud to be truly effective it needs a faster internet.

Enter the NBN.

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