Earlier this week Microsoft revealed it had brought three new UK data centres online – one in London and the others in Durham and Cardiff.

Until now, UK users of Microsoft cloud services have had to offshore their applications and data to their European data centres in Dublin and Amsterdam. The decision to open up facilities to directly host their public cloud services in the United Kingdom has positive implications for businesses and organisations based in this country, many of whom are legally required to keep their data here.

 For businesses that have been unable or hesitant to move to the cloud – such as those in the public sector and in the legal, financial and healthcare sectors – it removes the issues of data location and sovereignty that have posed significant barriers. The need to minimise the risks around the security of transatlantic lines, latency, regulation and compliance have been key factors in Microsoft’s decision to set up here. Amazon will not be far behind with its own UK region, due to come on stream in the near future.

With Azure, Office 365 and AWS (to follow) available from UK data centres, it’s clear that the clamour for cloud computing services is on the up. Take up of the hyper-scale public clouds is going to go from strength to strength, giving access to critical business benefits such as scalability and flexibility.

Each business and organisation will move to the cloud at its own pace, incorporating as many or as few cloud services into its IT strategy as it believes is necessary. One critical consideration here is choosing the right cloud provider; one that is progressive, secure and fits your requirements.

Microsoft is certainly progressive. It has one of the world’s largest budgets for R&D and is spending $millions on improving its cloud services. It has one of the most secure cloud platforms available with the highest accreditations and compliance standards. Its new UK data centres are a big tick for data residency and replication.      

However this news is not a golden ticket. Microsoft’s cloud platform is still maturing and its cloud services do not provide all the solutions to the challenges that organisations in the private and public sectors face. Not everyone has the in-house IT expertise of the likes of the Ministry of Defence for instance – one of the first big customers for Azure and Office 365 in the UK.

Each organisation will continue to have its own unique requirements when it comes to deciding to move to the cloud. Making the right decision will still be a real business challenge.

By James Pearse, Cloud Solutions Consultant, for SystemsUp

SystemsUp is iomart’s agnostic cloud consultancy. It helps organisations across the public and private sector to plan and make their move to Azure and Office 365 as well as manage the complex billing around those services. Here are some of its success stories.