Microsoft announced that you can use your Microsoft 365 out of German data centers. Again. There has been a story around a sovereign cloud in Germany made by Microsoft and hostet by T-Systems. This Story reaches back to 2015. After closing these sovereign data centers in 2019, you are now able to host your data in Germany again. But this time, it is a little bit different than five years before.
Microsoft Cloud Germany – Trustee Model for Data
In 2016, Microsoft set up a cooperation with T-Systems in the sense of a data trusteeship. This was desinged especially for customers from Germany. The repeal of the Safe Harbor Agreement by the ECJ in 2015 posed legal problems for all US cloud providers. Microsoft launched a creative solution for this problem in 2016. German data centers for Microsoft cloud services with T-Systems as data trustee. All this for a surcharge of about 25% compared to the global offering. This legal construction was intended to undermine U.S. law that allows U.S. authorities access to the data. Microsoft could furthermore be asked by US authorities to hand over data in this model. But they would no longer be able to do so for technical reasons (access rights). You were also able to use Microsoft Azure Services as well as Office 365 out of these German data centers. And they were not connected to the Microsoft Global Backbone. But this model was less successful than expected. Microsoft explains:
In the last three years, customer requirements have changed. Our customers want more comprehensive functionalities and connectivity with our global cloud infrastructure, which the sovereign Microsoft Cloud Germany with its special isolation does not allow.Markus Nitschke, Director Microsoft Cloud Services in Germany
These changing customer requirements are the reason why globally embedded cloud regions are now the focus of the cloud strategy in Germany. So, Microsoft decided to shut down these sovereign data centers in 2018. All customers were forced to migrate their data into one of the global data centers.
Microsoft 365 out of German data centers – again in 2020
The new division by region provides the possibility of customer data to be stored in Germany. But at the same time the cloud services will also be connected to the worldwide Microsoft cloud network. Nitschke emphasizes the successful nature of this changeover:
In the future, Microsoft Azure, Office 365, and Dynamics 365 will be provided in full functionality from the new data centers.
The offering in these cloud regions will be consistent with Microsoft’s global cloud offering. Microsoft host its new data centers in Berlin and Frankfurt.
Azure was generally available in the fourth quarter of calendar year 2019. Office 365 followed in the first quarter of 2020. These new data centers do not have a separated network and they are connected to the Microsoft Global Backbone, other than the sovereign cloud from 2016. So, the difference is that Microsoft needs to hand over the data upon request of an US authority, even if the data is stored in German data center regions.
Since the beginning of the year 2020, commercial new customers and partners with a German billing address have been able to use Office 365 from the new German cloud regions. For the first customers and partners, Dynamics 365 CRM is also available and was successfully rolled out to other customers later that year. Since October 1, 2020, PowerApps, Power Automate and Power BI from German cloud regions have also been available.
In December 2020, Microsoft finally announced a new Move Program. This program allows customers to move their existing instance located in Amsterdam (Western Europe) or Dublin (Northern Europe) data center regions into the new German data center regions. With the Office Move Program to the new German cloud regions, Microsoft enables other organizations to use the full potential for their digital transformation – with local data storage and high security and compliance standards. Registration for the move ends on April 30, 2021. The data which is not migrated with the Office Move Program will remain in Amsterdam or Dublin.