Microsoft to use Azure, Office 365 to tackle issues of data privacy

For the first time in the UK, Microsoft has officially released to new cloud regions which allow Office 365 and Azure to be offered from multiple datacentre.

This will bring the number of Microsoft generally-available regions as regards to its cloud platforms and infrastructure to 28.

The regional services pertaining to UK enterprise customers are designed to make a better option for meeting requirements available and to also store certain data locally.

UK West and UK South make up the new cloud areas, which are served from datacentres in London and the capital of Wales, Cardiff.

Microsoft made its UK plans known in November while pointing out that it is launching out is not without agreements from the UK Ministry of Defence and mental health agency in the South London Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust in order to adopt its cloud services.

According to Microsoft, the MoD which at the moment has 250, 000 users will be making use of Office 365 and Azure cloud services. For the Trust, they said Microsoft’s Azure services will be used to support staff and health specialist who their work is in the community and remotely.

Microsoft’s reason for investing in the new regions is because the two organizations notably hold sensitive information. Another reason for this is so that London’s massive financial services industry can receive the service.

Takeshi Numoto, Microsoft’s cloud and enterprise corporate VP, was quoted to have said that: “These new Microsoft Cloud regions will help businesses in industries such as banking, government, public sector and healthcare meet their customers’ needs, the regulatory requirements they are held to, and the need for local data residency and replication for business continuity.”

There have been concerns that even though the company is a US company, US law enforcement could demand access to data even when it is not stored in the country. Microsoft to this end has disclosed its victory in quashing a warrant access to emails that are stored in its datacenter located in Ireland while also advocating for broader privacy issues in the cloud.

For Microsoft’s European Azure, four European regions namely: West and North Europe, UK South and UK West regions. These are being served from the datacenters located in Netherlands, Ireland, as well as the new facilities in Cardiff and London.

Numoto in his statement also said: “With the introduction of new regions in the UK, Microsoft has now announced 34 Azure regions around the world with 28 generally available today, more than any other major cloud provider.”

Microsoft will use the UK regions to compete with AWS after AWS made an announcement that a new UK region is bound to come online before the end of 2016 or latest early 2017. This will join AWS’s existing Dublin and Frankfurt regions.

Microsoft plans on taking various approaches in making its services available in Europe. Out of Microsoft’s six new regions that are scheduled for launch by end of 2016 are two new datacenters in Germany.

Deutsche Telekom subsidiary T-Systems will make use of ‘data trustee’ to operate the two German regions. This means that Microsoft will not be able to access customer data under the agreement. And if the government should request for such data, it will have to go through T-Systems.

This arrangement by Microsoft is in compliant with EU-US Privacy Shield. This is a replacement to Safe Harbor after Europe’s top court struck it down in part as a result of the revelation made by Edward Snowden concerning US surveillance activities.