Microsoft Expands Cloud and Data Center Services to the U.K.
Lest there be any doubt about Microsoft’s commitment to its cloud services products, the company has just announced that it would be expanding its offerings to include the United Kingdom. CEO Satya Nadella (pictured) announced plans to offer commercial cloud services during the company's Future Decoded event in London today.
Microsoft Azure and Office 365 will be generally available from local U.K.-based data centers in late 2016 with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online following shortly thereafter, the company said. Microsoft said it will also offer Azure ExpressRoute to offer customers private connections to the cloud.
Redmond said it also plans to expand its data centers in Ireland and the Netherlands. “At Microsoft, our mission is to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more,” Nadella said during his keynote speech. “By expanding our data center regions in the U.K., Netherlands and Ireland we aim to give local businesses and organizations of all sizes the transformative technology they need to seize new global growth.”
Bringing Data Residency to the U.K.
The news follows a decision by Europe’s highest court that current agreements between the European Union (EU) and the United States on how to handle user data are insufficient to protect the privacy of EU citizens. That means many larger companies will no longer be able to house data on European users on U.S. servers, and will have to relocate that data to servers in the EU.
The new local cloud regions will enable data residency for customers in the U.K., allowing data to be replicated within the U.K. for backup and recovery. Microsoft said that this would help reduce network distance and lower latency rates.
The new local data centers will help meet the strong demand for cloud services coming from the U.K., especially for organizations looking for solutions delivered from data centers based in the U.K., according to Michel Van der Bel, area vice president and general manager of Microsoft UK.
More Than Just Europe
Azure is Microsoft’s name for its collection of integrated cloud services, including analytics, computing, database, mobile networking, storage, and Web. Dynamics CRM, meanwhile, is the company’s customer relationship management product, which Microsoft offers from the cloud or on-premises or through a hybrid deployment.
The company has moved aggressively to expand its cloud offerings recently, investing more than $15 billion in building cloud infrastructure and services in 24 regions worldwide.
While Microsoft clearly has its eye on investing in the European market, the new U.K. data center and the expansions of the Ireland and Netherlands facilities will also serve as cloud service hubs for other regions, in part, to provide additional capacity to customers in the North African and Middle Eastern regions, the company said. Microsoft already counts several large U.K. companies, including Marks & Spencer, Virgin Atlantic, and the Ministry of Defense, among its customers.