One year after the successful launch of the Microsoft Cloud in Switzerland, demand continues to be strong. In addition to large companies, startups and solution providers (ISVs), primarily Swiss SMEs and public sector organizations plan to increasingly adopt the Microsoft Cloud in Switzerland. Reasons for the great demand are the experiences of the past months and the increased needs for security and data protection. With Dynamics 365, Microsoft Switzerland will complete the unique offering of the three cloud platforms from the Swiss data centers by the end of the year.
Since the launch of the Microsoft cloud in Switzerland at the end of August 2019, the demand for Azure services and Microsoft 365 with local data storage has been very high. Twelve months ago, 30 companies launched as «early adopters», including UBS, Swiss Re, die Mobiliar and Skyguide. In the meantime, thousands of organizations use Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365 and Power BI from Swiss data centers, including Zurich Insurance Group, Alpiq, Wincasa, EY, WWF Switzerland, the health platform dacadoo, the Swiss Medical Association FMH, the Canton of Basel-Stadt, the City of Zug or smaller authorities such as the municipality of Mumpf.
Marianne Janik, CEO of Microsoft Switzerland, is very satisfied with the high demand: «Of course we are very pleased with the high demand, because we have been working for a long time to make this investment in Switzerland. The topic of data storage in Switzerland is extremely important for our customers. With our Swiss data centers, we were able to smooth the way for many companies and organizations to access the cloud – not only large companies, but also SMEs, start-ups and public sector organizations».
SMEs have discovered the Microsoft Cloud to their advantage
Amplified by the COVID 19 crisis, not only large companies use the cloud, but also many SMEs and public sector organizations are now ready to take the step into the cloud. Martin Haas, who is responsible for the newly created SMC business unit on the executive team of Microsoft Switzerland, explains the high demand as follows: «Higher competition and of course the current challenges posed by Corona boost the entrepreneurial spirit and innovative strength of Swiss SMEs. Many of them have quickly and effectively adapted to the new conditions with the help of Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365 and the Power Platform and have thus gained enormous market advantages. In close cooperation with our 4,600 Swiss Microsoft partners, we will continue to help SMEs to increase their resilience, efficiency and innovation».
Swisscom has already made a clear commitment to the Swiss Microsoft Cloud at its launch a year ago. Swisscom customers in the corporate environment can already benefit from Microsoft Azure for some time. Now, Switzerland’s largest Microsoft partner also offers a range of services especially tailored to the needs of SMEs based on Microsoft Azure from the Swiss data centers. One company that has already selected Swisscom’s SME-specific services is the Ticino-based architecture and design firm Comal.ch, which offers interdisciplinary consulting, management of large-scale projects as well as planning and construction management. Comal.ch has been active in the tourism and sports sector for years. In order to master the current challenges as well as possible, customer focus is the top priority for Comal.ch’s management team. Massimiliano Talento, Member of the Board and Head of Central Services: “Today our mission, and at the same time our challenge, is to ensure that our customers are satisfied and that we can add value to our region. Data security and privacy are our top priorities. As a Swiss SME, we have a Swiss partner in Swisscom who, together with Microsoft and its data centers in Switzerland, ensures services from a Swiss cloud with just one partner – from Microsoft 365 to Azure to the Managed Workplace. With this offering, we don’t have to worry about managing a multi-cloud and multi-vendor strategy and can instead focus on what really matters: our customers.”
Data protection and security as non-negotiable values
Most companies in this country have intensively examined the cloud and acknowledged that the cloud is the most efficient and secure way to provide and consume IT services. The local data centers play a central role as they have strengthened customer confidence in security and data protection.
Many companies and public sector organizations now also trust sensitive data to the Swiss Microsoft data centers, such as personal data and salary information at compensation funds, credit information and sensitive personal data at debt collection offices, health data at health insurance companies, hospitals or doctors, or business figures in the context of SAP-on-Azure.
Marc Holitscher, National Technology Officer of Microsoft Switzerland, says: «Today, it is widely acknowledged that the security level and operational transparency of digital platforms is usually higher than in their own operating environment. As part of their risk assessments, our customers examine the cloud in detail. We support them by making the relevant processes and security controls transparent. During these fact-based assessments, most of our customers conclude that nothing stands in the way of outsourcing data to the cloud. This opinion is shared by a growing number of Swiss law firms and specialists in the Swiss market.»
The AHV compensation office of the chamber of industry and commerce Aargau has also made the move to the Microsoft Cloud in Switzerland. The decision was made last December after a careful assessment of the advantages and risks. For Reto Hirschi, managing director of the AHV compensation office, the digitalization of his business is a compelling matter: “Our mandate is to provide high quality services for the first pillar at the lowest possible cost and with a minimum of bureaucracy within the scope of our discretionary powers. The use of the latest technologies, in this case the cloud services of Microsoft, enables us to increase efficiency and flexibility and at the same time improve our customer service”. The COVID-19-related lockdown naturally accelerated the migration to the cloud even further. The project was completed by mid-May and employees were able to use the industry solution and access already digitized dossiers from home without any problems. “Of course, we still have a lot of work to do before we can access all existing dossiers and really work paperless,” says Hirschi, “but the past few months have shown that we made the right decision.» The feedback from employees is very positive, reports Hirschi: “The colleagues in the team are pleased with the location-independent collaboration thanks to Microsoft 365 and the increased performance of the applications and processes in the Azure Cloud. Job satisfaction has increased significantly because work can be done more flexibly and quickly, and the time gained can be used for other tasks.» And Hirschi is not at all concerned about how customer data is handled: “We work with very confidential customer information, such as wage or income data, which of course must be protected at all costs. We rely on Microsoft’s Swiss data centers because they allow us to keep our data within national borders and also meet all other requirements that are relevant to us as a AHV compensation office, especially in regard to security and data protection.”
Three cloud platforms in Switzerland, for Switzerland
The range of Azure services available from the Microsoft data centers in Switzerland will be continuously expanded as planned. With Power BI, the cloud-based service for real-time data analysis and visualization, the first module of the Power platform has also been available locally since June. Power Apps, Power Automate and the first Dynamics 365 services are expected to be available from Microsoft data centers in Switzerland by the end of the year.
The three cloud platforms Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365 and Dynamics 365 from the Swiss data centers offer functionalities that can be used either individually or even better combined. Primo Amrein, Cloud Lead of Microsoft Switzerland, is convinced: «With our three cloud platforms and local data residency, we offer companies and organizations a unique offering to massively reduce the complexity of their IT. There are synergies between the cloud platforms for the benefit of our customers. In addition, the companies gain access to state-of-the-art technologies that are continuously being expanded. In this spirit, we offer a reliable, secure and future-proof solution – in Switzerland, for Switzerland».