Love Fest between Microsoft Azure and the United Kingdom Intensifies

Microsoft stepping up Microsoft Azure activity in the UK

Microsoft has intensified its cloud efforts in the UK over the past several months. What began in 2015 as a decision to offer cloud services from the United Kingdom has now turned into a full-on love affair between what was once the most iconic software empire in the world and what was once the most powerful empire in the world.

Let’s track Microsoft’s movements through England over the past few months and see what it is they’ve done to grab our attention.

November 10, 2015 – Microsoft Corporation’s CEO Satya Nadella announces the plan to offer cloud services from the United Kingdom.

Microsoft and Amazon announced their UK plans within the span of a few days, so we don’t really know who acted and who reacted. But it makes no difference, because both these companies knew that, for a strong cloud computing services operation, datacenter footprint is one of the most important factors. Moreover, not having a strong foothold in Europe, especially the UK, was not at all an option.

Ten months later, this happened…

September 7, 2016 – Microsoft’s datacenters in London, Durham and Cardiff go live with Azure and Office 365, while Dynamics 365 was expected to join the lineup in the first half of 2017.

“I’m proud that Microsoft is the first global provider to deliver the complete cloud from datacenters in the UK. Microsoft Azure, along with Office 365, is now generally available from multiple UK datacenter locations providing data residency to help enable the digital transformation of our customers in industries such as banking, government, public sector and healthcare that require certain data to remain within the UK. – Tom Keane, General Manager, Microsoft Azure.

If that wasn’t enough, the following month, Microsoft gave away a ton of cloud credits to a very important organization that deals in big data.

October 6, 2016 – Microsoft gives UK’s national data science center $5 million in Azure credits. Microsoft also reveals that its cloud computing services has more than 1000 customers using the new UK datacenters that were opened in the beginning of September – a month before.

That same month, Microsoft held off on increasing prices for its core SaaS product, Office 365, despite the fact that it was under tremendous pressure because of Brexit. This time, the beneficiaries were enterprise customers, whom the company didn’t want to lose because of the pound’s movement.

October 21, 2016 – Brexit throws a spanner into Microsoft’s plans and the British Pound slide forces Microsoft to announce price increases for customers buying enterprise software and cloud services in British Pound.

“From January, British pound prices for on-premises enterprise software will increase by 13% to realign close to euro levels.  Most enterprise cloud prices in British pounds will increase by 22% to realign close to euro levels.”

“Business customers with cloud commitment subscriptions such as Office 365 also receive price protection during their subscription term, which is normally twelve months from the start of paid subscription.”

Two months later, Microsoft explores the hybrid model of cloud computing deployment, and launches new features for UK’s enterprise customers.

December 14, 2016 – Launches Azure ExpressRoute and PSN/N3 Connectivity feature that allows UK customers to use private connections to Microsoft’s UK datacenters.

The new connectivity feature allows customers who would like a hybrid option – storing some information online and some on their premises – to manage their data quickly and safely.”

A month later, another key product was launched in Britain.

January 16, 2016 – Microsoft launches Azure Automation in United Kingdom.

Azure Automation will save time and increase the reliability of administration tasks that have to be conducted by businesses, such as checking whether they have exceeded the size of their online database or overseeing security measures.”

This month, Microsoft Azure saw deep price cuts for Azure virtual machine families and storage services.

February 6, 2016Announces huge price cuts on Azure Virtual Machine and Storage services, and uses UK price cuts as examples, subtly making a point.

Microsoft Azure price cuts for Virtual Machine instances and Blob storage - UK pricing used as example
Microsoft Azure Price Cut – Example from UK market
Microsoft Azure price cuts - UK pricing is used as example
Microsoft uses UK pricing to showcase price cuts for Microsoft Azure blob storage services.

A day later, Microsoft introduces data recovery and backup services from Azure.

February 7, 2016Announces Azure Backup and Site Recovery services for UK customers.

Both services are crucial for any firm storing information in the cloud. Azure Backup protects data on-premises and online, while Site Recovery allows customers to replicate on-premise physical servers in the cloud – so if their primary servers fail, they automatically switch to a secondary site to keep working.”

That much of activity in such a short time happened to catch our eye because we’ve been tracking Microsoft’s cloud movements for some time now. Let’s just say it’s Microsoft’s way of showing love to a very important market.