That a major US cloud computing services provider is planning to open brand new data centers is not new. What is new and a bit surprising is that the company is Microsoft. It was kind of taken for granted that one of the major firms in the world had cloud computing data centers in all the important cities or countries that matter. UK is a major technology hub, so how come Microsoft waited till now to announce plans to open its own data center in that country.
The feeling in some quarters is that Microsoft was prompted to act after Amazon, another big player in the US cloud computing niche, announced plans by its chief technology officer Werner Vogels to open its own new data centers in the United Kingdom. Is Microsoft making sure it stays close to the competition when, one week later, it also announced the same initiative?
There must be a healthy dose of truth in that notion because both companies seem to be tagging each other in a private race to see who would deploy the most data centers around the world. For instance, to handle most of their European operations, both Microsoft and Amazon already have data centers in Ireland. Microsoft and Amazon also announced the imminent launch of data centers in India and China to handle workloads in the Asian sector. Turns out there is more to Amazon than online retail and Kindle books.
So what is the big deal about opening data centers in a particular location? After all, being a cloud-based service, the center could as well be located in a remote Siberian community. All you need is good Internet connection to access the service. The reasons for these are basically two fold:
- Speed – the proximity of data centers to clients means that clients can access information faster. This is very important to very big companies who sometimes need to store or retrieve gigabytes of data in a very short time.
- Keeping data centers local can significantly reduce the legal hurdles that can pop up from time to time. This is especially more pronounced if government in a different country for one reason or the other intends to censor the activities of a company. Or to avoid the scenario where where exchange of information between governments and between international multinational corporations becomes bogged down by jurisdictional issues.
Shedding more light on the new data centers in the Uk, the Statement released by Microsoft also said,
“The new local Microsoft cloud regions will enable data residency for customers in the UK, allowing data to be replicated within the UK for backup and recovery, reduced network distance and lower latency. Services delivered from these UK data centers will create new opportunities for innovation and local economic growth for Microsoft UK’s 25,000-plus partners. General availability of Microsoft Azure and Office 365 is anticipated in late 2016, with Dynamics CRM Online following shortly thereafter. Microsoft will also offer Azure ExpressRoute to provide customers with the option of a private connection to the cloud.”
This is all part of the more than $2 billion Microsoft intends to spend in expanding its cloud services to other countries in the European Union.