Microsoft to expand Azure, Office 365 cloud services to data centers in the UK

Kellogg Brengel

Microsoft announced today that it will be expanding its commercial cloud services, namely Office 365 and Azure, to data centers in the UK. This expansion will allow UK firms and organizations to have their data stored within the UK when they use Microsoft’s commercial cloud services. The new offerings will have a couple of added benefits for UK customers, including closer physical proximity to the data that will lower latency as signals do not have to travel as far. But the biggest reason for why this matters is for compliance, for UK firms and government organizations that do not want to store certain types of information offshore.
In today’s announcement, Microsoft cited Mike Stone, chief digital and information officer for the UK’s Ministry of Defence or MOD. Stone said,

“At the MOD, we have a clear mission to deliver the modern, open and flexible IT resources required to ensure our forces have information capabilities tailored to their mission, location and role, accessible through a cost-effective and adaptable infrastructure. 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.”

Microsoft has been steadily increasing its security certifications for Azure Government in the US as well as making a concerted effort abroad to be more open and transparent with governments. Today’s announcement is another step in Microsoft’s marketing push to gain more commercial cloud service customers, notably large government contracts or with companies that might have especially sensitive data such as health records or government data.
CEO Satya Nadella also offered a statement regarding today’s announcement, saying,

“At Microsoft, our mission is to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more. By expanding our data center regions in the UK, Netherlands and Ireland we aim to give local businesses and organizations of all sizes the transformative technology they need to seize new global growth.”

Microsoft Azure and Office 365 will be generally available from UK data centers in late 2016. Microsoft plans to expand the services shortly thereafter by bringing Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online to UK data centers as well.
Would your UK based business be more inclined to use Microsoft’s commercial cloud services now that the data will be stored within your national borders? Let us know in the comments section below.