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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty: Global Government Innovation Unlocked

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The Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty represents a significant advancement at the intersection of global demand for innovation and evolving national data privacy and control policies. It ushers in a new era for governments worldwide, providing a secure avenue for modernizing their technology infrastructure and workflows.

Microsoft has announced a public preview of the Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty. Furthermore, they are announcing their planned general availability of the Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty this December. This solution will enable governments to meet compliance, security, and policy requirements while harnessing the cloud to deliver value to their citizens.

Since the inception of the cloud, government customers have faced limitations with digital transformation, partly because of the need for controls to meet specific national and regional requirements. Over recent years, innovators within global governments have asked for alternatives to a legacy approach’s heavy capital expense and operational costs to reduce the overhead of owning and operating data centers and facilitate modernization. Additionally, evolving policy decisions, such as the European Commission’s EU-U.S. Adequacy Decision in July 2023 under the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) now provide legal support for continued adoption of hyperscale cloud computing by government customers within the EU.

With these two trends converging in the public sector and specific requirements varying by country, Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty is grounded in a repeatable best-practice approach that can be leveraged to assist with complex regulation achievements. This solution features industry-leading data sovereignty and encryption controls, enabling governments to easily create solutions tailored to help address regional and national requirements.

A principled approach to digital sovereignty

At Microsoft, they believe in transparency so that people and organizations can control their data and have meaningful choices in its use. They empower and defend the data privacy choices of everyone using their products and services.

Their principled approach to digital sovereignty in the cloud builds on their principled approach to data privacy in the cloud. They understand that sovereignty can mean different things for different scenarios. As they work with customers and partners worldwide, the common thread is a need to determine where their data resides and how it’s protected, including who has access to that data.

For most government needs, the security, privacy, and compliance capabilities of the Microsoft Cloud already deliver on their requirements, regulations, and standards — the additional capabilities we’re providing with the Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty are designed specifically for countries with jurisdictional requirements around sensitive data. With all Microsoft Cloud solutions, customers benefit from industry-leading cybersecurity, the broadest compliance, and more regions than any other cloud provider.

A keystone offering for national requirements

Collaborating with partners who deeply understand national requirements enables us to provide a global solution for local requirements. These requirements are often complex due to a layered landscape of evolving policies, trends, and regulations. Governments and their partners have validated the solutions Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty delivers as a preferred way to unlock cloud value. 

In the Netherlands, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), a leader in cyber security guidelines and advisories related to secure cloud adoption, is working to establish a cloud center of excellence, enabling compliant and rapid cloud adoption. To this end, NCSC is currently piloting Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty with sovereign landing zones and built-in policy initiatives to meet the Dutch BIO regulation. In the NCSC’s own words,

“The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is piloting avenues to adopt and use secure, robust public cloud offerings,” says Arnoud van Petersen, CIO & Head of IT Services at NCSC-NL. “Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty, with its specialized features like sovereign landing zones and well-developed security and AI capabilities, provide a solution that fits our strategy of enabling cloud innovation without compromising sovereign controls.”

InSpark (a subsidiary of Royal KPN) is a fully dedicated Microsoft Cloud Incubator for mission-critical infrastructures for the government and enterprises. InSpark is working to provide a compliant and repeatable approach to meet the demands of Dutch public sector customers, such as the Municipality of Amsterdam, with Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty.

“At Municipality of Amsterdam, Cloud for Sovereignty will enable us to leverage cloud capabilities for processes that use or create sensitive information. By migrating from an on-premises data center to the cloud in compliance with the relevant classification within the Dutch BIO regulation, this enables us to offer modern services efficiently and ultimately improve the experiences of our citizens,” says Patrick Scholte, Director of Platforms & Development, Municipality of Amsterdam.

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