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Microsoft opens UK Azure and Office 365 data centres

Microsoft has announced the opening of new data centres in the UK to allow customers to use the firm’s cloud services knowing that the data remains in the country.

The new facilities in Cardiff, Durham and London will host the Azure cloud platform and Office 365 productivity suite. Dynamics CRM Online will be added in the first half of 2017.

Major organisations, including the NHS and the Ministry of Defence (MoD), have already welcomed the new data centres as a way to advance digital operations without worrying about data location.

Stephen Docherty, CIO of South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Having the option to store data locally will allow us to take advantage of new opportunities to use 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.

“For us, Microsoft’s UK cloud region means that demonstrating regulatory and legal compliance is simpler. The bottom line is we trust Microsoft.”

Other high-profile UK customers that will now use Azure for cloud services include Aston Martin, Capita and Rosslyn Analytics.

Perhaps the most notable customer is the MoD. Mike Stone, the department’s CIO, described it as a major chance for the organisation to embrace new technology to improve operations.

Stone explained that the MoD had contacted Nadella to make the case for UK data centres as he knew that there was strong demand for such services.

“We’ve persuaded Satya he should set up data centres in the UK, so I think you could say we’ve contributed to the prosperity agenda here by getting Microsoft to come with us as the anchor tenants of data centres,” he said.

“So I’m working very closely with Microsoft as we seek to deliver a capability to defence that we haven’t had previously, which is one that fully exploits the power of the cloud and of mobility and of enterprise social media.

“What I’m seeking to do is fundamentally transform the information capability that we provide to MoD staff.”

One new MoD service that will be hosted on a private instance in Azure is MoDNet, which is designed to improve collaboration and communication across the organisation.

Microsoft UK CEO Cindy Rose explained that the clear demand from customers for UK-hosted services underlined the need for tools that help firms with digital transformation agendas.

“With our trusted cloud now delivered locally, and our commitment to principles of security, privacy, transparency, compliance and availability, we are well placed to support the digital transformation of organisations throughout the country,” she said.

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Digital First were commissioned to work with the Brent Housing Partnership to support its digital transformation, improve the overall customer and staff experience and delivery efficiencies through digitisation.

In developing the digital strategy we:

  • Undertook widespread staff and stakeholder engagement via digital transformation workshops
  • Assessed the options for digitising the customer front end and a wider assessment of the back office systems, data and integration opportunities
  • Developed a commercial business case for investment in a programme of digital transformation.
  • Produced a detailed design and specification of over 100 business processes and the including multiple integrations to create an end to end platform

Key outcomes achieved:

  • A clear technical roadmap for incremental digital transformation to create a new customer digital platform
  • Early rationalisation for the business applications portfolio generating over £200,000 per year in savings
  • Agile development of a new housing portal design to drive self-service and a richer customer experience
  • Production of a business case for change for a Dynamics 365 platform and wider savings of £600k annually – delivering an 18 month digital ROI
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