Thursday, June 11, 2015

Microsoft Cloud touches down in Canada!

Last week, Microsoft made a game-changing announcement: Microsoft will be opening two Canadian data centres that will offer Office 365, Azure, and Dynamics CRM services.

Our team here at Interlock IT has been leading Office 365 implementations since 2010 and has noticed a dramatic increase in interest from our clients in moving infrastructure to the Microsoft Cloud.

There are some compelling reasons to switch your email or Exchange Server to the cloud; whether you want the latest and greatest updates, Microsoft's subscription-based licensing models, or are trying to reduce costly infrastructure overhead. There is also the incentive of exclusive services and capabilities only available through the cloud, like Yammer, an enterprise social networking service, Delve. machine learning and artificial intelligence which helps you discover what's most relevant and important to you, and Office 365 Video, an intranet-style website portal to post and view videos in your organization. It is a mobile-first, cloud-first age in which Microsoft's cloud-centric roadmap for its flagship products will pave the way for you to stay ahead of the competition. This is the platform you want to be on.

However before this great announcement, the fact that infrastructure and data would be based outside of Canada and potentially subject to foreign laws and regulations such as the PATRIOT Act would sometimes dismiss consideration of the cloud for many of our clients. To have data located outside of Canadian borders is violation of some company's policies and therefore a sticking point. This has been a cloud deterrent for many, until now.

Some key points to note:
  • General availability of Azure is anticipated in early 2016, followed by Office 365 and Dynamics CRM Online in late 2016.
  • The data centers are to be located in the Greater Toronto Area and Quebec City (specific locations have not been announced for security reasons.)
  • Microsoft will address data residency considerations (you can specify that your data will only reside in Canada.)
Can existing Office 365 tenants be transferred into the Canadian data centers? Will the pricing model be proportionate? Will performance be as robust? Will updates be released on the same schedule? All these questions come to mind and we anticipate answers in the coming months. Microsoft is finally ready to plant its flag on Canada's growing cloud industry as it hopes businesses will invest more in its ideas than its hardware and we begin to see a new dawn of cloud computing within our borders.