If you spend five minutes listening to Microsoft talk about its cloud services, one of the key talking points is always about how it has the most data center regions around the globe. The company has invested billions to create local-redundant cloud operations in major economies and today, Microsoft has announced that it is taking the next step for EU customers and data protection.
Currently, the company already offers the ability to store your data inside a specific country but the next step for the Microsoft Cloud will be to not only store the data but also only process it in the EU. Meaning, all of your data from storage to processing and to being in-flight will reside within the EU and this is a significant step forward for data residency.
This is not a small announcement either, this will require additional investment in regions inside the EU and a significant amount of work on Microsoft’s part to region-lock data. The company says they are starting on this journey today with the expectation that it will be completed by the end of next year.
The reason why this is challenging is that Microsoft will need feature parity inside of the EU for its services. Today, depending on what specific features you require when it comes to storage or compute, this can dictate where you have to send your data for processing or storage. With this new commitment that Microsoft is calling the “EU Data Boundary for the Microsoft Cloud,” the goal is to make all of the Microsoft Cloud available locally in Europe.
This move, while also targeted at making sure Microsoft is in the good graces of the EU and its goal of making the region digitally independent, will ensure that EU data is not exposed to other countries’ laws and regulations – in theory. There is concern among international corporations that do not have US operations that if their data flows through a US data center, that information could be exposed by court order.
This move by Microsoft will be welcomed by the EU and its customers and there is little downside for the company. Aside from the investment of making sure all the required features and functionality are available in Europe, any company that wants assurance its data is retained locally through its entire lifecycle, will soon have that option with the Microsoft Cloud.
Look for more information about the status of this project as the company states they will conduct an EU Cloud Customer Summit in the fall where they will share updates about this initiative.