Microsoft’s UK data centres are a ‘win-win’ for country, says Government’s national technology adviser

Microsoft’s decision to open data centres in the UK is a “win-win” for the country, according to the Government’s technology advisor.

Liam Maxwell told a meeting of senior figures from across British business that storing data in the cloud would be more secure and cost the public less than current methods.

“To be able to have a data centre structure here which is commercial grade and allows us to have UK data residency, so it’s open to the public sector, has been the win:win that we all wanted,” Maxwell told the meeting at Microsoft’s offices in London. “To have this capacity with UK data residency is one of the factors that makes the UK the best place for a tech start-up or to start a tech corporate initiative.

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“It’s not unreasonable that people want to keep data in the UK. Citizens want to trust that their Government – and companies – is holding their data securely. The UK provides that assurance.”

The Microsoft Cloud in the UK opened last month, with Azure and Office 365 now generally available from multiple data centre locations. Dynamics CRM Online will join the line-up in the first half of 2017.

South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, the country’s largest mental health trust, Aston Martin, Capita and Rosslyn Analytics have also signed up. They join thousands of other UK businesses and organisations — such as Glasgow City Council, Marks & Spencer, Confused.com, Natural Resources Wales, Pizza Hut Restaurants and Virgin Atlantic – already using Microsoft’s cloud services.

The Ministry of Defence will also use Microsoft Office 365 and Azure cloud services, citing value for money as one of the key reasons.

Cost was a factor for Maxwell, too.

“The biggest opportunity it gives you is the financial saving,” he said. “The financial saving of the all-up cost of cloud services by using a common solution is much less than the all-up cost of trying to do it yourself. A lot of the savings we are going to generate from this are going to be from people being able to use cloud computing in a way that is much more efficient.

“We are really pleased to have got to this stage, so thank you very much for building it.”

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Liam Maxwell

Maxwell was joined at the event by other Microsoft cloud customers, including information management firm Capita One, medical communication business Careflow and digital consultancy ClearPeople.

Gabriel Karawani, co-founder and director at ClearPeople, told the crowd of more than 130 business leaders that his company wouldn’t have survived if it hadn’t switched to the cloud.

“By adopting Microsoft’s cloud early, we leapfrogged some of the competitors that didn’t do it and helped some of our clients leapfrog their competitors. It also gave us access to some things that we didn’t have access to before, such as infrastructure and scale.

“I don’t think we would be in business now if we hadn’t done it, or we would have been a very different business. We would have been trying to play catch-up with many of our competitors. It has meant that we have been able to transform our business.”

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Microsoft Azure facts

Jon Shaw, Managing Director at Careflow, said Microsoft was the obvious choice for his business.

“If you compare cloud providers, Microsoft has the best set of certifications to appease concerns around information governance. We can improve care and reduce cost,” he said.

The new cloud regions in the UK become part of one the world’s largest online storage infrastructures, supported by more than 100 data centres globally. These hold over 30 trillion pieces of data and are backed by billions of dollars in investment since 1989.

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With 95% of UK chief executives stating that they are changing how they use technology to assess and deliver on wider stakeholder expectations, according to PwC’s latest Annual Global CEO Survey, it is hoped Microsoft’s decision to open data centres in Britain will spark local economic growth for the company’s 25,000-plus partners and support local technology advancement.

“What we hope is that this move brings the benefits of the cloud to every business in the UK,” said Nicola Hodson, General Manager for Marketing and Operations at Microsoft UK. “This doesn’t just bring world-class reliability and performance, it also brings UK data residency. We know that customers only use the cloud if they trust it, so our cloud services are built from the ground up with trust in mind. We implement measures to ensure your data security is well looked after.

“Privacy is at the centre of everything we do, it’s designed in; it’s your data and we make sure it’s your data. We make sure your data stays compliant with any local, international or other laws. We are one of the first to market with meeting most compliance regulations, such as the EU Privacy Shield. We also tell you where your data is at any one time, so there is full transparency from Microsoft.”

For further information on Azure, visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-gb/

For more details on Office 365, go to https://products.office.com/en-gb/business/office