Microsoft Cloud in Switzerland: Additional Azure Services and Power BI available from Swiss data centers

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The demand for Azure services and Microsoft 365 from the Microsoft cloud in Switzerland has increased strongly. Several thousand customers are now using cloud offerings with local data storage from Swiss data centers, and increasingly organizations from regulated industries such as healthcare, education and the public sector are also taking advantage of these services. The offered Azure services have significantly expanded. In addition, with Power BI, the cloud-based service for real-time data analysis and visualization, the first module of the Power Platform is now also available locally.

„The demand for services from the Microsoft cloud in Switzerland, which has already been very high since its launch in August 2019, has continued to grow strongly in recent months,“ says Primo Amrein, Cloud Lead of Microsoft Switzerland. In addition to companies from all industries, the education system and the public sector in particular have contributed to the growth.

Many new Azure services available
The range of Azure services has been steadily increased. Since the beginning of the year, the following Azure services have been launched in Switzerland: API Management, App Gateway v2, Bastion, Batch, Container Registry, Dedicated HSM, DevTest Labs, HDInsight, Media Services, Power BI Embedded and Private Link. The new cloud computing services in the Swiss cloud regions support increased security requirements. Azure Bastion mitigates threats by allowing clients to securely connect to virtual machines in Azure without using public IP addresses, thereby reducing exposure to the public Internet and associated risks such as malware targeting VMs. Azure Private Link provides a secure connection to the Microsoft cloud without using public Internet access. The deployment of Logic Apps and Azure Red Hat OpenShift is planned in the coming weeks. The number of ExpressRoute partners has also grown significantly and will be further expanded in the coming months (according to this overview).

Launch of first Power Platform module with local data storage
Power BI, the cloud-based service for real-time data analysis and visualization, is now also available from the Microsoft cloud in Switzerland with local data storage. „Data is no longer the by-product of individual business processes, but a success factor and central asset of the networked company,“ says Primo Amrein. „The collection, linking, analysis and visualization of data moves to the center of attention.“ Power BI can be used as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution stand-alone and independent of other applications or simply integrated into Microsoft 365. Power BI is part of Microsoft’s comprehensive Business Intelligence (BI) portfolio. The solution is open and easy to use. The other modules of the Power Platform (Power Apps, Power Automate and Power Virtual Agents) as well as first Dynamics 365 services are expected to be available from Microsoft data centers in Switzerland by the end of the year.

EY relies on Power BI from the Microsoft Cloud in Switzerland
One of the first customers of Power BI from the Swiss data centers is the Swiss organization of EY, a market leader in auditing, tax consulting, transaction consulting and legal advice as well as advisory services. More and more customers are looking to EY’s expertise when it comes to exploiting the huge potential of existing data – from revenue growth and higher customer satisfaction to greater security and resilience for the company. The challenge is not only to collect and analyse the data, but also to visualize it. „Customers expect us to reduce the high level of complexity to clear and comprehensible recommendations for action. In addition, dashboards should provide the necessary transparency and enable intelligent decision-making support,“ says Frank Broetzmann, Microsoft Alliance Lead DACH of EY. „Power BI has become an invaluable tool for business analysis and data visualization and is instrumental to many of our consulting services. We are therefore very excited about the systematic rollout of Power BI in Switzerland and the possibility to store data within the Swiss national borders if requested by the customer“.

Thousands of customers, including more organizations from regulated industries
Since the launch of the Microsoft Cloud in Switzerland in August 2019, several thousand Swiss customers have been using Azure or Microsoft 365 services from Swiss data centers. Large companies, SMEs, start-ups, solution providers (ISVs) and public sector organizations benefit from local data storage, lower latency and georedundant disaster recovery with the two data centers Switzerland North (Zurich region) and Switzerland West (Geneva region). This increasingly includes organizations from regulated industries such as healthcare as well as cantons, cities and municipalities.

FMH – Swiss Medical Association supports digitization
„For us, the use of cloud services for the benefit of our employees is a logical step into the future,“ says Dominik Kreuter, head of the ICT department at FMH. Based on the hybrid cloud strategy launched in 2018, FMH in Switzerland now relies on Microsoft 365 out of the Microsoft cloud in Switzerland. Kreuter is pleased to provide his colleagues with a modern and flexible workplace, replacing existing, outdated tools. The team’s feedback has been excellent, probably also because the new tools have enabled the unexpected transition to the home office without any problems. The decision to use certain cloud services useful for FMH’s needs was preceded by a well-founded, fact-based risk assessment in accordance with current standards. For Dominik Kreuter, it is obvious: „The use of cloud solutions must never be at the expense of non-negotiable values such as data security, functionality and privacy protection“.

KPMG’s COVID Care App for the Canton of Basel-Stadt runs on Azure
Also new in the Swiss Microsoft Cloud is the „COVID Care App“, which was developed by the Canton of Basel-Stadt with the support of KPMG. The app helps provide care to people who have contracted COVID-19 and are in isolation. The use of this app is voluntary, and it does not incorporate any tracking functions. Basel-Stadt’s work on the COVID Care app is a pioneering achievement and Marc-André Giger, Head of Public Sector at KPMG and project manager, is convinced: “This solution represents a valuable contribution toward both improving the quality of care provided to people who have contracted the disease as well as toward relieving the burden on the healthcare system.” Thanks to the long-standing, well-established partnership between Microsoft and KPMG and supported by the high level of functionality of the Azure platform, the solution for the Canton of Basel-Stadt was developed, tested and rolled out very quickly.

Mumpf ensures smooth municipal operations during the Corona pandemic
The fact that digitization is being accelerated at all levels of the public sector is demonstrated by the example of the municipality of Mumpf in the canton of Aargau. Just in time for the outbreak of the Corona pandemic, the municipality on the Rhine with 1,500 inhabitants migrated its IT to the Microsoft Cloud in Switzerland. Stefan Güntert, Gemeindeammann and chairman of the community council of the municipality of Mumpf, says: „We were really very lucky that we were able to complete the migration before the crisis. As a result, we were immediately in a position to protect our employees and switch to home office without having to interrupt municipal operations. I don’t see how we could have done that with the old IT environment.” Since the beginning of the year, the municipality has not only obtained Microsoft 365 from the Swiss data centers but has also migrated its business administration to the cloud. Reto Hofer, municipal clerk and property manager as well as IT manager for the Mumpf municipality, explains: „The use of cloud services is an important milestone for us in our long-term plan to drive forward the digitization of Mumpf. As a municipality we want to offer our citizens a modern, simple, reliable and secure service. Protecting the data and privacy of the population is our top priority. We believe that Microsoft’s cloud services and data storage in local data centers provide the reliability and security that we require as a community.”