The Microsoft Azure Swiss Cloud bible

The Microsoft Azure Swiss Cloud bible

Switzerland – a small country with a strong economy

Many Swiss companies including banks cannot make the move to the cloud because they need to have their data reside inside the country for legal requirements.

On March 26th, 2019, the Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) published a set of guidelines on cloud banking, containing recommendations designed to increase legal certainty and help Swiss banks make more extensive use of cloud services. You can read more about the guide on how to secure cloud banking here.

Microsoft has recognized the need in Switzerland

Microsft is listening to customers’ needs and requirements, and in March last year, they announced that they are planning to open two new Azure regions in Switzerland to offer enterprise cloud services for businesses, government, and Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from datacenter locations in the regions of Geneva and Zurich. Microsoft can thereby provide data residency in Switzerland to support Swiss companies and institutions, including the financial services industry, in the next steps of their digital transformation. This will add a new layer of control and will help companies and institutions to comply with regulatory requirements.

Microsoft confirmed in their announcement, that the Swiss datacenters are expected to be initially available in 2019 without comitting on any specific date.

itnetX as Early Adopter in the pioneering role

We are very proud and excited to be among a few companies which have been selected for the Microsoft Swiss Cloud Early-Adopter Program.

As we approach the official launch of the Swiss Azure regions during this summer, we would like to share with you more details about the Azure Swiss Cloud and what services you can expect to have during the initial phase.

Microsoft Cloud in Switzerland

The opening of the new cloud regions in Geneva and Zurich marks the first time Microsoft will deliver cloud services directly from datacenter locations in Switzerland and expands upon Microsoft’s existing investments globally (54 regions worldwide at the time of this writing). By delivering the complete Microsoft cloud – Azure, Office 365, and Dynamics 365 – from datacenters in a given geography. The Microsoft Swiss Cloud enables customers to meet local data residency requirements within Switzerland. Additionally, replication of such data across multiple datacenters (paired region) provides reliable protection for business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR).

The chosen datacenters by Microsoft in Switzerland are in Geneva (Region name: Switzerland West), and in Zurich (Region name: Switzerland North). The datacenters are Swiss entity founded, with full Microsoft ownership of infrastructure, and the operations staff is locally hired.

Once Azure Swiss is generally available, Geneva region (Switzerland West) will be only used for customers that require BCDR in Switzerland. The Zurich region (Switzerland North) will be the main Azure Swiss region by default. However, you can always work with the support team at Microsoft to enable Switzerland West if needed.

Microsoft is committed to the highest levels of transparency, standards conformance, and regulatory compliance. To help organizations meet national, regional, and industry-specific requirements governing the collection and use of individuals’ data, Microsoft provides the most comprehensive set of compliance offerings (including certifications and attestations) of any cloud service provider. This includes the world’s first code of practice for cloud privacy, ISO/IEC 27018. To learn more about Microsoft privacy best practices, please check the following additional resources, as well as the Microsoft service trust center, which provide information about compliance with data protection standards and regulatory requirements, such as International Organization for Standardization (ISO), Service Organization Controls (SOC), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Microsoft Cloud Services in Switzerland

What services Microsoft is planning to launch with the Azure Swiss region. Azure services will be deployed in Switzerland step-by-step. Once the Azure Swiss regions are made available, you can consume the following services since day 1:

  • Application Gateway
  • Key Vault
  • Azure Cosmos DB
  • Load Balancer
  • Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2
  • Service Bus
  • Azure Resource Manager
  • Service Fabric
  • Azure SQL Database/Managed Instance
  • Storage/Disk Storage/Managed Disks
  • Storage/Hot/Cool Blob Storage Tiers
  • Azure SQL Database/SQL Data Sync
  • Azure Service Manager (RDFE)
  • Azure Backup
  • Azure Site Recovery
  • Azure MonitorLog Analytics
  • VPN Gateway/Virtual WAN
  • Cloud Services/Instance Level IPs/Reserved IP
  • Virtual Machine Scale Sets
  • Virtual Machines sizes (A0 – A7/Av2-Series/BSeries/D-Series/DS-Series/DSv2-Series/DSv3-Series/Dv2-Series/Dv3-Series/ESv3-Series/Ev3-Series/FSeries/FS-Series)
  • Event Hubs
  • Virtual Machines/Instance Level IPs
  • Virtual Machines/Reserved IP
  • ExpressRoute/ExpressRoute Circuits
  • ExpressRoute/Gateways
  • Virtual Network
  • Redis Cache

Once the Azure Swiss regions are available, Microsoft is planning to launch the following additional Azure services after GA:

  • SAP-on-Azure (M-Series virtual machines being deployed and released shortly after GA)
  • Web App/App Services
  • SQL Data Warehouse
  • Azure Kubernetes Services
  • Azure DB for PostgreSQL / My SQL / Maria DB
  • Cosmos DB
  • Media Services
  • Power BI

However, Office 365 will follow roughly between 3 to 6 months after the launch. The core customer data at-rest stays within Switzerland for the following services:

  • Exchange Online mailbox content (e-mail body, calendar entries, and the content of email attachments)
  • SharePoint Online (site content and files stored within that site)
  • OneDrive for Business (upload files)

As for services which are operated at global scale such as Azure Active Directory (AAD), data will still leave Switzerland regions though (as it does in other regions as well). Microsoft assures in their contracts to comply with the relevant laws of specific regions. Accordingly, the Swiss Federal Act on Data Protection (FADP) also applies to data stored in Switzerland regions.

Last but certainly not least, Dynamics 365 will follow as well between 6 to 12 months after the launch of the Swiss region. You can learn more by following these links: Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Power Platform.

You can expect more and more services to be added post GA to align with the global Azure services.

Pricing for services running in the Azure Swiss Cloud

At the time of this writing, Microsoft did not disclose any information about pricing yet. But based on my experience in Switzerland, and with the Microsoft Azure in general, we expect the price will be higher compared to other regions. In this sense, services running from the Swiss Azure cloud can be expected to be about 10-25% higher compared to West Europe (Amsterdam, Netherlands) and North Europe (Dublin, Ireland) regions, as it is the case for Azure datacenters in Germany and France.

Conclusion

Accelerate your digital transformation with confidence. Microsoft provides deep expertise in data protection, security, and privacy. Each new datacenter will adhere to Microsoft trusted cloud principles while joining one of the largest cloud infrastructures in the world. Azure serves more than a billion customers and 20 million businesses.

Work with a trusted partner, itnetX (Switzerland) AG is a Microsoft elite partner and trusted service provider for modern workplace and cloud solutions. By delivering reliable advice, outstanding service expertise, and support, our team is ideally placed to deliver the perfect cloud solutions built on top of Microsoft 365, Azure and Azure Stack.

Meet our experts at the Microsoft Briefing Center in Wallisellen on August 29, 2019. We’ll show you how itnetX can guide your company step by step on the way to the Microsoft cloud and the new Swiss data center.

We hope you’ve found some of what we shared useful for your cloud strategy. If you would like to discuss your cloud journey in detail, please contact your account manager at itnetX to help you with your digital transformation journey in a well-governed and secure design.

Thank you for reading!

-Charbel Nemnom-
Microsoft MVP,  Microsoft Azure

Charbel Nemnom

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