Safeguarding Data within the UK

Microsoft was the first global cloud provider to respond to customer demand and deliver a complete cloud solution from UK data centres on their Azure platform. That was a year ago, and now they boast three popular data centres within the United Kingdom that host the Azure cloud platform and the Office 365 office productivity platform. One year on, how have these data centres changed the face of public cloud for UK businesses?

Data residency – where data is stored in the world – has always been a major issue for many businesses who must comply with stringent data security regulations. Previously, the nearest data centre was Europe North, located in Ireland, which was secure enough for most organisations to make the move to the cloud. However, some industries (including law firms, public and private healthcare facilities, and the public sector) with stricter data compliance laws found it wasn’t possible, as their data would not be held within the United Kingdom.

Why are UK Data Centres Important?

It has been almost exactly one year since Microsoft’s customers were able to migrate data from Office 365 to the new UK data centres. This shift holds a range of benefits that include legal compliance, but also improving cost-effectiveness, flexibility, reliability and efficiency. For organisations who were previously prevented from storing data in the cloud, local data residency opened up that possibility. Since then, huge companies including the Ministry of Defence, Aston Martin, Confused.com, Pizza Hut and Marks and Spencer’s, among many others have all moved their data closer to home.

Earlier this year, Microsoft announced that UK businesses can now also use UK data centres to back up data in a new service called Azure Backup. Data is encrypted and replicated, and customers pay only for the amount of data stored. This means that Azure customers benefit from Locally Redundant Storage (LRS) where their data is stored within their primary region and Geo Redundant Storage (GRS) which means that data is backed up in a geographically separate secondary region that is at least 250 miles away, for Disaster Recovery purposes. For the United Kingdom, data held within the UK West data centre will be replicated within the UK South data centre and vice versa.

Aside from it being a necessity for some, for many, it is simply reassuring to know their data is in the UK, as it simplifies demonstrating legal compliance. Additionally, with Brexit looming, many companies are relieved to have their data held within the same country in which they do business.

Progression of the Cloud

The cloud has seen huge improvements since it was first established – and according to Perfect Image’s cloud expert, that is only set to keep improving as the top cloud service providers constantly compete with each other to offer the best service, pricing options, storage, and availability. Shortly after Microsoft announced their UK data centre plans, many other cloud giants followed suit. Enhancing security to include local data sovereignty means the cloud is more accessible than ever for businesses and is another shift forwards into the cloud becoming prevalent within every company, large or small.

Developments in Security for Office 365

At Microsoft’s recent Future Decoded 2017 event that one of our Microsoft experts attended and wrote a blog article about, it was announced there would soon be developments in data governance for Office 365. New and improved security features will be implemented that enable compliance with upcoming regulations, such as automatic document encryption, automatic email sensitivity flagging for confidential content, and access control for files and documents.

What can Perfect Image do for my business?

Perfect Image is an end-to-end IT solution provider that can assist with the migration to newer on-site servers if yours is coming to the end of its lifespan, a hybrid cloud solution if you would like some data to still be stored on-site or a pure cloud solution.

We are a Microsoft Gold certified Partner and have a team of qualified experts who are best placed to help you choose the best cloud solution. With an assessment of your business requirements, we can assist with what will work for you, and help with the design, implementation and support of a new infrastructure.

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