Microsoft has been running large scale data centers since the mid 80ies. Around 2009 it launched its Business Productivity Online Services (BPOS) – an admittedly bumpy start into what has become a very successful Office 365-business today. In the mid-2000s the Redmond-based company started working on a project code-named Red Dog which was publicly announced in 2008 and officially launched early 2010: the Azure platform.
To pinpoint the exact starting date of Microsoft’s cloud computing era is difficult and dependent on your personal definition of “public cloud computing”. However, we do know that the Microsoft cloud is expanding its presence onto Swiss soil this summer. In a few weeks, Microsoft will launch it’s first Azure services in Switzerland, followed by O365, Dynamics365 and additional Azure services at a later stage.
The fact that the Microsoft Cloud will be available in Switzerland shortly changes nothing for companies that want to move to the cloud. At the same time, it changes everything. Let me explain in a second. Before we get to that, however, let me state that when I talk about “the cloud” I refer to the global hyperscale-providers: Azure, AWS, GCP and (maybe) a handful of other providers. Everything else to me is just traditional hosting that has been renamed “cloud” with a little bit of added “self-service”.
Why the Microsoft Cloud in Switzerland changes nothing:
First, the main advantages of the cloud have remained the same for years. There are, in fact, dozens of advantages to the cloud but the main ones are in my opinion the following:
Agility and Flexibility
Given that you have the skills, everything just moves much faster in the cloud. Need the server hosting your app to be ten times as powerful in fifteen minutes? Done. User base going through the roof? Scale up as you need. You need to move / re-deploy the applications to run your business on a different continent? Done. Hire dozens of new employees? They are ready to work within a few minutes.
Speed (time to market)
Almost every company faces increasing competitive pressure. The best way to compete is to out-perform and out-innovate your competition. If businesses want to launch new products or services, the time to market-pressure has increased dramatically over the years. It has also become much easier to launch cloud-based beta-versions of products to test the waters before either signing a multi-year hosting contract or building yet another datacenter.
Many have started to claim that the cloud is not cheaper than on-prem environments. I strongly disagree. If done right, there comes significant cost saving potential with the move to the cloud. Yes, that goes also for IaaS, not just for PaaS or SaaS. The main challenge is that it is extremely difficult to compare apples with apples when going through this transformation. The only mistake you can do here is to simply “copy-paste” your on-prem deployments to the cloud. This does not mean that there is no cost-saving in lift & shift – but it needs to be done right.
In addition, Security is another main advantage of the cloud. There, I have said it. Many people make the case that the cloud is not safe. That might be true if “the cloud” is a small hosting provider. However, if we take my definition of the cloud from above into account, I firmly believe that yours and my data is more secure at a company that invests billions into IT security and employs legions of experts to protect its cloud infrastructure. Only a handful of companies are equipped to do that. Also, we have seen time and time again that the location of the data has no, absolutely no, effect on the security of said data.
Second, the patterns that call for a move to the cloud have also not changed. It is still the following four load-patterns that should make you consider moving the respective application or service to the cloud:
The fact that Microsoft bringing its cloud services to Switzerland does not change anything at all in regard to all the main cloud advantages and scenarios respectively.
And yet, it changes everything.
Countless people and customers have told me over the years that their “data needs to stay in Switzerland”. But, if we are honest with ourselves, only very few really had a valid reason for that statement. Most often it was an argument to avoid complicated, potentially annoying and tiresome internal discussions, to push out the challenging yet inevitable change a bit further, the simple lack of time to take on this beast called cloud.
Therefore, for a few (highly regulated) companies the data residency guaranteed by Microsoft finally enables them to move workloads to the cloud. For most, however, the big change approaches here in the fact there the is literally no more excuse left to put the adoption of the cloud off any further. It will also, most likely, make some of your internal discussions much easier.
For a limited set of workloads with a very high sensitivity for latency, the fact that the cloud datacenters are coming closer is in fact a game changer. But again, this is only true for a set of high-performance applications. Most workloads are perfectly performant for Swiss users when hosted in, say, Dublin or Amsterdam.
The fact, that you will be able to leverage the full power if the Microsoft cloud while hosting data in Switzerland-based DCs might have an enabling effect on how you lead the conversations with your customers. It might give you the little extra needed to convince a new customer and, on top, might accelerate this conversation quite a bit.
I personally am very excited that we will be able to deploy Azure services in the two additional Swiss regions in just a few days.
Please join us for our next Microsoft Swiss Cloud Event on the 29 August 2019 at the Microsoft Office in Wallisellen.
We are looking forward to meeting you and to supporting you on YOUR journey to the cloud.