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Wednesday, 11 November 2015 10:23

Microsoft to deliver a data-sovereignty friendly UK data centre in 2016

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Microsoft is the latest of the cloud giants to announce a UK data centre to appease the gods of data-sovereignty and latency, and to take a pop at the valuable UK government market  

At Microsoft’s talking-head fest, Future Decoded, in London, Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella announced that for the first time the business will be able to offer Azure cloud services served directly from a UK data centre. The news follows Amazon’s reveal of new UK region and like the AWS launch announced last Friday it’s aimed at those businesses who have been reluctant to commit to cloud due to data-sovereignty and low-latency reasons, which, of course, includes the very valuable UK government sector which has until now been off limits – and may still remain so. Or as Microsoft puts it “bringing world-class reliability and performance to government organisations, regulated industries and other businesses.” The placement of government first in that list shows just what an important market they think it is.  Microsoft clearly wants the defence market and include a quote from Mike Stone, chief digital and information officer, at the Ministry of Defence. “Microsoft’s plans to offer highly secure, UK-based cloud services is an exciting development and one that will clearly support the MOD in our transformation journey.”

The new data centre will serve as a UK home for Azure and Office 365 and will be generally available from late 2016 with Dynamics CRM Online expected to follow shortly after. And more importantly for those looking to create secure private cloud solutions with guaranteed SLAs, Microsoft will also offer Azure ExpressRoute to provide private connections into and out of the data centre.

Additionally Nadella also announced the completion of the latest phase of expansion for its data centre facilities in Ireland and the Netherlands which completes a $2 billion (£1.3 billion) plus spend on cloud infrastructure across Europe by Microsoft.

In his speech at Future Decoded Nadella, as usual emphasised the Microsoft mantra of cloud and mobile first and said. “By expanding our data centre regions in the UK, Netherlands and Ireland we aim to give local businesses and organisations of all sizes the transformative technology they need to seize new global growth,”  

As yet there are no details as to where in the UK the data centre will be located, but our bet is that it’s going to be just outside the M25 rather than the wilds of Scotland.    

The new expansion at Microsoft’s Irish data centre is now complete and its data centre facility in Middenmeer, the Netherlands, is now operational. Both locations currently serve as hubs for Microsoft cloud services, including Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics CRM Online, and once the UK data centre opens will provide additional capacity for customers across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Microsoft claims to have spent more than $15 billion (£9.9 billion) in building cloud infrastructure and cloud services worldwide and has more than 24 Azure regions around the world, which it also claims is more than any other major cloud provider – but that depends what you define as a major. However, it remains to be seen if the UK government and UK industries will take up Microsoft’s UK data centre offer, especially as Microsoft are still in the middle of a court case over email data held in its Irish data centre and with the issues of what happens after Safe Harbor still unresolved.

We wait with baited breath for Google to make an announcement that they too will be opening a UK data centre…..is that the phone?

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