MoD heads to the cloud as Microsoft opens UK data centres 

Microsoft has confirmed that its UK data centres are now up and running – with a number of high profile clients already on board.

The company’s three UK facilities are located in London, Durham and Cardiff and should help the US company sell its online services to the public sector and other bodies that handle sensitive data.

Indeed, the Ministry of Defence is moving its computing from the secure military network it has used for the last decade to data centres owned by Microsoft.

The MoD will use Microsoft’s Office 365 and Azure for its computing rather than the legacy internal servers and Microsoft software that it has used since 2005.

Microsoft says the new data centres mean they can now provide a local version of its Azure services, which allow customers to store data and offload processing tasks. Clients are only charged for what they use and can easily alter their requirements at short notice. This can prove substantially cheaper than maintaining their own computer servers, although a hybrid approach is also possible.

The UK data centres also mean Microsoft is able to offer its online suite of Office 365 productivity apps without sending data overseas.


EU citizen data

Commenting on the move, Professor Mark Skilton from Warwick Business School, said: “This is part of a bigger picture of the large cloud computing providers ‘setting up shop’ on local territory to provide better access and performance of their cloud products and services.

“It has been 12 months since the safe harbour agreement enabling EU citizen data to be automatically moved and stored in the US was ruled invalid, while its replacement – the EU-US Privacy Shield – has raised more concerns over EU citizen’s data and massive and indiscriminate surveillance by the US government.

“Large US cloud companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and Google have much to gain and potentially lose in navigating these legal issues, yet the adoption and scale of cloud computing by organisations means demand is growing exponentially. With no significant EU alternatives, UK companies continue to move to the cloud as shown by the MOD’s need to modernise its IT through the adoption of ‘on-demand’ cloud services.

“By being onshore [in the UK] some work-around can begin in placing EU citizen data within the country of jurisdiction.

“Having cloud computing is a vital layer of infrastructure in the modern digital economy and that, along with broadband and network investment, will drive new levels of market penetration and enterprise performance for organisations.”

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