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Office 365: Where is my data?

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James Hodge
Business IT Professional specialising in Consultancy, Business Relationship Management, Infrastructure Solutions and IT Project Management
One of the biggest questions or concerns raised over cloud computing is the loss of control over where your data is stored. “It’s in the cloud” – but where is ‘the cloud’ exactly?
This article tries to demystify the physical aspect of ‘the cloud’ from the perspective of Office 365.

Microsoft made a $2 billion investment in a network of state-of-the-art data centres to house all of our Office 365 data. The data centres are strategically located globally to suit security and access requirements.

The Microsoft data centre is secure by design. Built with a ground up approach to security, the data centre is designed to protect against natural disaster and unauthorised access.

Physical access to the data centre is restricted to a small list of operations personnel and controlled by a two-tier authentication method comprising of proxy card access readers and geometry biometric readers.

Global Foundation Services is a branch of Microsoft that designs, builds, operates and secures the cloud infrastructure data centres around the world.  http://www.globalfoundationservices.com/

The primary storage location of an Office 365 customer’s data is determined at the initial setup of services, where the administrator chooses the customer’s ‘country or region’.
The customer’s data can only reside in one region, so a multinational company needs to consider where the bulk of their users are located geographically and set the primary region accordingly.

Microsoft does not disclose the location of its data centres, but has publically released the following information in regards to data centre locations based on the country or region:

Office 365 Data Centre Locations
To ensure the availability of services, there will be occasions when some data may need to be moved outside of the primary storage region. Microsoft will only notify customer’s when their data is moved to another country, to customer who have checked the ‘compliance notifications’ option in the ‘My Profile’ section of the online services portal.

What goes on inside a Microsoft Office 365 data centre is not released to the public, not even cameras are allowed inside.
 
One of the visual highlights of the TechEd Europe 2012 event was Microsoft’s model of an Office 365 data centre which is about as close to a guided tour as any of are likely to get.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEhOfZrp864
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