Microsoft has announced that its investment in European data centres has now reached a commitment of $3 billion, and will extend to France and beyond.
CEO Satya Nadella is currently on a business charm offensive across Europe, together with the company’s President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith – and both seem determined to close the gap with larger cloud rival Amazon Web Services (AWS).
In the wake of Redmond acting on its 2015 commitment to provide governance-friendly data centre locations in the UK, it now plans to offer its Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics 365 services from ‘multiple datacenter locations’ in France from 2017.
The figure of $3 billion invested to date does not reflect future innovation or builds.
“We continue to invest heavily in cloud infrastructure to meet the growing demand from European customers and partners… Building a global, trusted, intelligent cloud platform is core to our mission to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more. There’s never been a better time for organizations across Europe to seize new growth and opportunity with the Microsoft Cloud.”
It is interesting to note that the European Commission is currently committing itself to the exact reverse of the border-based retrenchment which Nadella discusses today; Vice President Andrus Ansip announced last week a major new European initiative to counter ‘unnecessary restrictions on where data is located’.
The Nadella European tour is currently in Dublin, where Microsoft has a significant and often contested data centre presence, which it intends to expand. Nadella and company will go on to Germany, where Microsoft has also recently launched governance-centric storage options, with the additional novelty of a data access framework which is controlled by a nationally-based third-party – as one might expect in the country which has in recent years become a de facto crusader for data protection and privacy. The data trustee for the framework is independent German company T-Systems International, part of Deutsche Telekom.
Satya Nadella will make a solo visit to London during the visit.
To coincide with the European tour Microsoft has published a ‘book’ (though it is rather fragmented in its online version) entitled A Cloud For Global Good, outlining its vision for global cloud services and making 78 policy recommendations in 15 areas.
Amongst other recommendations, the work calls for more transparency and practicality when seeking user-consent over privacy issues on data, noting that it can be difficult for end-users to identify more important approval-ticks under the deadening effect of constant legal verbiage.
However the recommendations also include a call for privacy policies to not become so restrictive that reasonable analytics work cannot be conducted on anonymised versions of the data, opining:
‘Where sensitive data and advanced analytics are involved, privacy frameworks should provide businesses and governments with sufficient flexibility to describe the purpose of data collection and the inner workings of analytics techniques in order to enable a broad range of insights and increase benefits to consumers.’