MoD shifts to Microsoft cloud as company launches UK datacentres

Written by Rebecca Hill on 7 September 2016 in News

The Ministry of Defence is moving its data from its secure networks to the cloud, as Microsoft today opens its first UK data centres.

The MoD is replacing its legacy IT systems - Photo credit: PA Images

Microsoft announced its plans to offer commercial cloud services from the UK back in November last year, and today opened datacentres in London, Durham and Cardiff.

The aim is to provide secure Office 365 and Azure cloud services that can be used to store sensitive data without that data leaving the UK.

This is beneficial to bodies that are subject to strict rules on data security, which would not allow the transfer of data over the cloud to another country.

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The MoD is to use the company’s Office 365 and Azure cloud services, with the department said would provide value for money, flexibility and security.

The department’s chief digital and information officer Mike Stone said that Microsoft’s cloud service “fits perfectly with the MoD’s digital transformation agenda”.

He added: “This agreement, which is based on Microsoft’s world-class reliability and performance, will allow us to deliver cost-effective, modern and flexible information capabilities. It will ensure we are better-placed in our ever-changing, digital-first world.”

The department is replacing its outdated legacy equipment, and Stone told the BBC that when he first approached Microsoft about local facilities tow years ago, the MoD was still using Windows XP.

He is quoted as saying that the services “were unfit for purpose” and that the aim was to fully exploit the power of the cloud.

“We can now work on documents collaboratively and understand more about the ways we are working - we will be able to see how much time teams are spending in meetings, on email and on the phone,” he told the BBC.

Microsoft also highlighted another public sector user that has made the move to its cloud services – the UK’s largest mental health trust South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.

Stephen Docherty, chief information officer at the London NHS trust, said that using the company’s cloud region “means that demonstrating regulatory and legal compliance is simpler”.

He said: “Having the option to store data locally will allow us to take advantage of new opportunities to utilise the Microsoft UK Azure Platform and it is reassuring to know that our Trust’s core data, that we create and manage, stays in the UK.”

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s competitor Amazon has two datacentres in Europe – in Dublin and Frankfurt – but none in the UK. Last year it announced it planned to have an AWS cloud centre operational in the country by the end of 2016 or early 2017.

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