By Paul Lorimer, Distinguished Engineer, Microsoft 365
As Microsoft strives to support the digital transformation of organizations and enterprises around the world, we continue to drive innovation and expand into new geographies to empower more customers with Office 365, the world’s leading cloud-based productivity solution, with more than 180 million commercial monthly active users. Today, we’re taking another step in our ongoing investment to help enable digital transformation and societal impact across Africa with the general availability of Office 365 services from our new cloud datacenters in South Africa.
Office 365, delivered from local datacenters in South Africa, helps our customers enable the modern workplace and empower their employees with real-time collaboration and cloud-powered intelligence while maintaining security, compliance, and in-country customer data residency. The addition of South Africa as a new geography for Office 365 increases the options for secure, cloud productivity services combined with customer data residency in 16 geographies across the globe along with three additional geographies also announced.
In-country data residency for core customer data helps Office 365 customers meet regulatory requirements, which is particularly important and relevant in industries such as healthcare, financial services, and government—where organizations need to keep specific data in-country to comply with local requirements. Customer data residency provides additional assurances regarding data privacy and reliability for organizations and enterprises. Core customer data is stored only in their datacenter geography (Geo)—in this case, the cloud datacenters within South Africa.
Customers like Altron and the Gauteng Provincial Government have used Office 365 to transform their workplaces. This latest development will enable them—and other organizations and enterprises adopting Office 365—to ramp up their digital transformation journey.
“Altron is committed to improving our infrastructure and embracing a strategy to become a cloud-first company to better serve our customers and empower our employees through modern collaboration. We’ve noticed a tangible difference since making the move to Office 365.” —Debra Marais, Lead, IT Shared Services at Altron
“Office 365 is driving our modernization journey of Government ICT infrastructure and services by allowing us to develop pioneering solutions at manageable costs and create overall improvements in operations management, all while improving transparency and accountability.” —David Kramer, Deputy Director General, ICT at Gauteng Provincial Government
Microsoft recently became the first global provider to deliver cloud services from the African continent with the opening of our new cloud datacenter regions. Office 365 joins Azure to expand the intelligent cloud service available from Africa. Dynamics 365 and Power Platform, the next generation of intelligent business applications, are anticipated to be available in the fourth quarter of 2019.
By delivering the comprehensive Microsoft cloud—which includes Azure, Office 365, and Dynamics 365—from datacenters in a given geography, we offer scalable, available, and resilient cloud services to companies and organizations while meeting customer data residency, security, and compliance needs. We have deep expertise in protecting data and empowering customers around the globe to meet extensive security and privacy requirements, including offering the broadest set of compliance certifications and attestations in the industry.
The new cloud regions in South Africa are connected to Microsoft’s other regions via our global network, one of the largest and most innovative on the planet—spanning more than 100,000 miles (161,000 kilometers) of terrestrial fiber and subsea cable systems to deliver services to customers. Microsoft is bringing the global cloud closer to home for African organizations and citizens through our trans-Arabian paths between India and Europe, as well as our trans-Atlantic systems, including Marea, the highest capacity cable to ever cross the Atlantic.
We’re committed to accelerating digital transformation across the continent through numerous initiatives and also recently announced Microsoft’s first Africa Development Centre (ADC), with two initial sites in Nairobi, Kenya and Lagos, Nigeria. The ADC will serve as a premier center of engineering for Microsoft, where world-class African talent can create solutions for local and global impact. With our new cloud datacenter regions, the ADC, and programs like 4Afrika, we believe Africa is poised to develop locally and scale for global impact better than ever before.