Microsoft is offering private connections to its UK data centres as a means of wooing government customers to its sometimes less-than- resilient cloud.
The private connection means faster pipes, less latency and therefore less failover or loss of service. Also, supposedly, greater protection.
Until now, Microsoft relied upon partners such as Equinix to deliver private and secure connections to Azure and Office 365. Equinix also provides similar connections to cloud services from Microsoft's chief rival, AWS.
The new pipes will support Microsoft data centres in London, Cardiff and Durham, which opened three months ago in support of Azure and Office 365. Amazon this week established its own long-awaited data centre presence for AWS in Blighty, leasing facilities in an unnamed partner's data centre.
The data centres and dedicated connections come in anticipation of UK government customers, who are expected to sign up to public cloud services but who for security or regulatory reasons must ensure the data says within the UK.
National Technology Advisor Liam Maxwell in a blog post said: “The arrival of local data centres in the UK is fantastic news for British businesses and the public sector alike.
“Cloud services enable organisations to change how they deliver existing services and to design new services for their customers, reshaping how they engage employees and reduce operational costs.”
The growing presence of the big providers, however, will spell bad news for the country's smaller cloud providers, who will likely lose business.
Microsoft claims "thousands of customers" – including the Ministry of Defence, the Met Police and parts of the NHS – have signed up to take advantage of the sites, which it said offer UK data residency, security and reliability.
However, the company has had a patchy track record when it comes to seamless connectivity. For example, in January and February, Office 365 users were unable to access their cloud-based email accounts for many days. ®