Microsoft isn't letting a feud over its data collection policies with the French Data Commission from thwarting its plans to build data centers in France. During a stop in Dublin yesterday — one of four cities Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Microsoft President Brad Smith are visiting on a whirlwind European tour — the company announced it was building new French data centers, from which it will offer Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics 365.

Initial availability of the cloud offerings will be in 2017.

The announcement follows release of an advisory paper called Cloud of Global Good, in which Microsoft makes 78 recommendations in relation to public policy about cloud computing across 15 categories, including data protection and data accessibly.

Cloud Investment

In a statement from Microsoft, Nadella said Microsoft has already invested more than $3 billion in cloud infrastructure in Europe. “We continue to invest heavily in cloud infrastructure to meet the growing demand from European customers and partners. Building a global, trusted, intelligent cloud platform is core to our mission to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more,” he noted.

The Microsoft Cloud, including Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics 365, is part of the company's global cloud infrastructure. It includes 30 data centers, with another six on the way.

In Europe, there are Microsoft data centers in the Netherlands, Ireland, Austria and Finland.

Data Sovereignty

Microsoft has a unique deployment in a Germany,  where a data center it opened last month is controlled by a third party — T-Systems, a Deutsche Telekom subsidiary.

This effectively keeps Microsoft out of the data loop. The company will have no access to any data from creation to storage to retrieval.

The format was developed in response to a legal dispute over US access to email data stored in a data center in Ireland, and the demands of law enforcement agencies in the US for access to an email account stored in Ireland.

Learning Opportunities

Microsoft refused access, a decision that was upheld by the US appellate courts. But the case is facing additional legal challenges.

Neither Nadella nor Smith have said whether the French data centers will operate on the same model, a move that might assuage French concerns over data sovereignty.

Amazon’s Dominance

Microsoft is under pressure from Amazon, which announced earlier this year that it will also open a French data center.

This will be the fourth AWS Region in Europe, joining EU (Ireland) and EU (Frankfurt) and one in progress in the UK. 

Amazon has almost three times the market presence of Microsoft, its nearest competitor, and a clear lead in all major regions and most segments of the market, according to Q2 data from cloud market intelligence research agency, Synergy Research Group.

Title image by Thomas Tixtaaz