We’ve been building portals within Office 365 and SharePoint Online for the past several years and are noticing a dramatic increase in interest from our clients in building portals that leverage the Microsoft Cloud. The rationale for transitioning existing SharePoint solutions to the cloud is a compelling one, whether you want to benefit from the latest and greatest features, Microsoft’s subscription-based licensing models, or to avoid costly infrastructure overhead. There is also the lure of unique services and capabilities only available through the cloud; capabilities like Yammer, Delve and the Office Graph, Office 365 Video, and other NextGen portals. This has been further intensified by Microsoft’s unwavering determination to incent customers to move to the cloud with an unapologetic cloud-centric roadmap for its core product portfolio. 

Yet, even with all the compelling arguments, one point of contention frequently blocked consideration of the cloud for many of our clients — the fact that the infrastructure and data would be located outside of Canada and thus be subject to foreign laws and regulations such as the USA PATRIOT Act. This was in violation of a number of Canadian organization’s privacy policies and/or privacy legislation that they must comply with.

Yesterday, Microsoft made a significant announcement, which will be a game changer when it comes to the appeal of the Microsoft Cloud in Canada. Microsoft will be opening two Canadian data centres that will offer Office 365 (including SharePoint Online), Azure, and Dynamics CRM services.

Some of the key points to note:
  • General availability of Azure is anticipated in early 2016, followed by Office 365 and Dynamics CRM Online later in 2016. 
  • The data centres are to be located in Ontario and Quebec.
  • Microsoft will address data residency considerations (you can specify that your data will only reside in Canada).
There are many questions to be answered such as: Can existing Office 365 tenants be transferred? Will the pricing model be on par? Will performance be as robust? Will features be released on the same schedule? We hope to find out these details and more in the coming months.

All of us at Habanero applaud this move and commitment by Microsoft to Canada, which frankly until now, we weren’t expecting despite the inherent demand. We believe this will be well received by organizations across Canada.

Will it fuel an even greater interest in Office 365 and Azure services amongst our Canadian clientele? We think so!