As previously announced by Microsoft this year, the Microsoft Azure Swiss data centers have finally launched in Switzerland – and for Switzerland.
Why should we care?
Having data local in our country is mandatory to a lot of companies and organizations – just having this ensures the data follows a lot of the local regulations to the letter, which are mandatory for some industries like finance, insurance, re-insurance or highly regulated industries such as pharma. One of the most common relies on using data outside a concrete geographic area within distance, physical and legal jurisdiction, regulated through Swiss data protection and the Banking Act.
On another side, Microsoft is known for its high standard in security, service and quality. More on this here and here. To add they recently Launched “Azure Security Labs” for enabling and empowering continuous self-hacking efforts on their platform, inviting security professionals to hack them.
In addition, their exceptionally capable cloud infrastructure is meant for enterprise customers as few companies have the enterprise background (as well as support for windows) as Microsoft. The Azure platform is exceptionally well suited for interoperability with your data centers, also called Hybrid Cloud and if I dare to say, this is the true strength of Microsoft in the cloud. Or one of them.
This provides flexibility with proven solution that can adapt as your IT adapts and leverage the cost benefits of moving your infrastructure to the cloud, from CapEx to OpEx. (Capital expenditure or pay services upfront completely versus Operational Expenditure and pay only what is needed). This offers a lot of benefits in terms of flexibility, which to name the two most important we are talking about Scalability and Elasticity. If you want a serious comparison of the different Cloud offerings, I like this one very much but also the Gartner Magic Quadrant is a must go just bear with me that this is only for IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service).
In addition, any service hosted in the soon to be released Swiss data centers will benefit from improved performance up to X4. This is due to the elimination of the detour of the Dublin and Amsterdam data centers. As you know, the speed of light is highly underestimated and usually overseen: Lightspeed is slow.
Not to say, this cloud is already proven, several high level companies have had a private preview of Microsoft’s private Swiss cloud. Concretely 30 customers and partners which are already operating in production, such as UBS, Swiss Re, Die Mobiliar, BKW, Stadt Zug between others. That said, this two regions do not have general availability yet, they are meant for local companies and current access has to go through a process of getting access approved, which can be done through here. A managed process follows that will prioritize Swiss customers with legitimate requirements for having local data residency.
In addition, as a clear Microsoft statement, the data stored will be uniquely used and accessed by the customers, and not used or processed in any way or form for market research or any other purpose. I will close this with a statement from Mark Holitscher, National Technology Officer of Microsoft Switzerland “The data belongs to our customers and we process it according to our customers‘ demand. We also work closely with regulators – in Switzerland and around the world – to address the legal requirements of various industries.”
What is this exactly?
There will be two Data Centers located in two regions, separated by around 200 km (Geneva and Zurich), which means we will be even able to setup & deploy geo-redundant ultra-safe systems and services locally which are able to avoid the risk of disaster scenarios thanks to that. As an update, the Switzerland West region will be reserved for in-country disaster recovery, so we will only be able to deploy to Switzerland North. This will happen in the shape of two Azure regions, “Switzerland North”, located near Zurich and “Switzerland West” near Geneva. The offer will be initially the same for both data centers, mostly IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) including VMs, networking, Security, Storage and backup services. Also some PaaS (Platform as a Service) as Databases as SQL Azure, Cosmos DB.
On Tech Summit Switzerland 2019 Primo Amrein, Microsoft’s Cloud Lead at Switzerland, announced the following services availability at launch:
Later on, other services will be progressively rolled out in 3-6 months phases starting with Microsoft Office 365 which will be followed later with Dynamics.
Or, as it is already live, go to the official Azure infrastructure portal, where we can see the products available by region where we can see also estimates of availability on soon to come products.