Microsoft Cloud Germany is open and ready for business, operating under a “data trustee” model that addresses the data privacy and sovereignty concerns of the region’s companies.
Last November, Microsoft announced a novel way of delivering cloud services to German businesses while adhering to the country’s strict regulations concerning user data. CEO Satya Nadella pledged to open two new cloud data centers, one in Magdeburg and the other in Frankfurt, but leave the management of customer data to a local partner. The new German cloud data centers bring the Azure region count to 30 out of a total 34 that the company has announced to date.
Under this data trustee model, Microsoft is unable to access customer data without permission. Even if the company is given the OK, Deutsche Telekom subsidiary T-Systems will supervise matters in accordance to German law.
Now, German businesses that may have been holding off on using Azure services, Dynamics CRM Online, Office 365 and other cloud services from the Redmond, Wash., technology giant can rest assured that their data is safe, claimed Tom Keane, general manager of Microsoft Azure. “The Microsoft Cloud Germany provides a differentiated option to the Microsoft Cloud services already available across Europe, creating increased opportunities for innovation and economic growth for highly regulated partners and customers in Germany, the European Union (EU) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA),” wrote Keane in a blog post.
“Microsoft’s commercial cloud services in these datacenters adhere to German data handling regulations and give customers additional choices of how and where data is processed,” continued Keane.
Microsoft isn’t the only company with eyes on the German cloud market.
In January 2015, IBM opened a cloud data center in Germany with the help of its SoftLayer subsidiary, offering customers in-country data storage and tough security and privacy protections. Earlier this year, Dropbox announced an expansion into Germany and that it will host data from Amazon Web Services (AWS) facilities in the country. (AWS began serving the region from its Frankfurt data center in 2014.)
“We have always been deeply committed to upholding the security and privacy of customer data—we were one of the first major cloud service providers to achieve ISO 27018 certification, a global standard for cloud privacy and data protection,” said Thomas Hansen, global vice president of revenue at Dropbox, in a Feb. 11 announcement. “The continued protection of individual privacy and the free flow of data are critical to the innovation that drives the economies on both sides of the Atlantic.”
The German government takes its citizens’ privacy rights very seriously. Two years ago, following the National Security Agency (NSA) cyber-spying scandal, the country’s government cut ties with Verizon. The company argued that “Verizon Germany is a German company” and therefore complies with the country’s laws while claiming that the U.S. government cannot access customer data that is stored overseas.