Improving the German Team

by | Sep 4, 2018 | Office 365 news

New data centres coming to Germany in 2020 for German data residency

Data privacy and data protection are serious issues across Europe. The new Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is top-of-mind for many organisations in the region – as it should be – and the rest of the world now too – as it has become – but matters of data privacy and data protection have been serious issues for a long time before GDPR. This is not the blog post for a deep analysis of GDPR, but one of the items that flows from the regulation is a high duty of care around where data is physically located and stored. When data is stored in on-premises systems and servers, it is much easier to draw a line around a box and say “this is where it is.” In the original vision of the cloud, on the other hand, data residency issues bordered on the irrelevant; as long as it was stored securely, so the vendors reasoned, where precisely it was stored “in the cloud” could be rather amorphous.

That’s changed. For example, Microsoft now offers much greater transparency around where specifically data is stored for Office 365 tenants, and even has an almost year old multi-geography offering for organisations that require different data storage locations in different regions but still within a single tenant. And in combination with a changed mindset around data storage location, Microsoft is building out a global network of data centres to provide in-region and even in-country guarantees for those organisations where the specifics around data residency is a potential show stopper. In principle, much of the world is now covered by a consistent data centre approach for Office 365, although this is a moving target as Microsoft re-jigs data storage locations to take advantage of new data centres.

One of the countries that has been excluded from the consistent approach is Germany. Back in 2015, Microsoft introduced a “new type” of Office 365 data centre for German organisations who required data residency within Germany. The Office 365 service offered through the 2015 German data centre was a special variant (e.g., Office 365 E4 Germany), and was run by a German-based third-party data trustee so that Microsoft would not have access to customer data as a non-German company. This approach provided an immediate answer for Microsoft and for German organisations, but over the subsequent years, the new capabilities introduced to Office 365 globally have generally been excluded from Office 365 Germany. No Microsoft Teams. No PowerApps. No Microsoft Flow. No Office 365 E5. No Yammer even. No MyAnalytics. No Planner. No, no, no and no.

It’s pretty hard to work with organisations on introducing change in how people work together using modern collaboration tools when they can’t even access them.

But the times are a’changin. Effective early 2020, Microsoft will bring its new Berlin and Frankfurt data centres on stream for Office 365, replacing the current 2015 data centre model. The new data centres are part of Microsoft’s consistent global Office 365 data centre strategy – not a continuation of the “new type” – and German organisations for whom in-country data residency is essential will be able to use these new data centres. We’re not there yet, but Microsoft is not onboarding new customers to its current 2015 German data centre any more, and new customers can either embrace one of the regional European data centres or wait for early 2020. Part of this stems from the impact of GDPR: since GDPR delivers a harmonised approach across all 28 member states in the EU, the need for a specific and exclusive approach in Germany is no longer required.

In the Euro 2012, Germany beat the Netherlands 2-1. In the FIFA World Cup 2014, Argentina won the penalty shootout against the Netherlands, and then proceeded to play Germany in the final (and lose 0-1). Clearly, Germany has a great football team (although go Netherlands in 2018!). Despite our country-level competition in football, we welcome all German organisations to Microsoft Teams (and other Office 365 services) in the new data centres, and look forward to bringing our PACE approach to make a winning combination – for all teams.