The Inside Edge Business Gazette

kevindKevin Dryden, PrimeTek IT Solutions

In May, Microsoft officials opened two datacentres in Canada. While that may not sound like terribly exciting news, it has some important implications for even the smallest of businesses here on Vancouver Island. This is an opportunity for many organizations to gain additional savings by making the switch to Cloud services.

Moving infrastructure from on-premise to the Cloud is becoming the standard way of conducting business for a number of organizations, but that doesn’t mean everyone is necessarily comfortable with it. Considering the sensitive nature of communications these days, it’s important for organizations of all sizes to take every step possible to protect the information trusted to them.

With Microsoft making the investment to place not just one, but two datacentres in Canada, it has taken critical steps to help your business achieve these goals. The datacentres are located in Toronto and Montreal; the second is important because it provides geo-redundancy in the case of network disruptions or disaster scenarios at one location.

By achieving “data residency” in Canada, Microsoft is adding an additional layer of protection from the seemingly ever-increasing reach of US authorities.  While those authorites’ intentions of attempting to fight and prevent terrorism are valid, there is a great deal of concern that their requests for (at times) unrestricted access to data is violating rights of citizens all over the world. Beyond that, US courts are imposing restrictions on companies like Microsoft, Google and Facebook from even telling customers when their data has been turned over.

The services that are currently being offered by Microsoft include Office 365 and Azure.  Office 365 is Microsoft’s online productivity suite including hosted mail, data storage and online versions of its Office apps.  Azure is Microsoft’s online computing platform – providing everything from servers to desktops and a variety of applications, all being run on powerful collections of servers housed in their datacentre.

While Microsoft has taken the initiative to help its clients protect private information, it is still subject to increasing pressures from government authorities. There is an open case now where the government has subpoenaed Microsoft to hand over emails that reside in their Irish datacentre.  Microsoft is appealing the court’s demand, and though the data is in a consumer environment (Microsoft’s Hotmail web mail service), it is still an indicator that nothing is certain in this rapidly evolving environment, and businesses have a duty to stay on top of what they are exposing their clients to.

As with any major change in operations, moving to the Cloud involves careful planning and analysis; this is just one piece of the pie. This news from Microsoft, however, removes of one of the biggest barriers to many organizations considering the jump.

If you have any questions, we can help you determine the best way to help make you more efficient, protect your clients and realize some cost savings along the way.

Kevin Dryden is the owner of PrimeTek IT Solutions, which offers technology support and training to small businesses in the Comox Valley. He can be reached at 250.871.8547 or www.primetek.ca.

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