Microsoft backflips on Australian Office 365 migrations

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Microsoft backflips on Australian Office 365 migrations

Microsoft has backflipped on its decision to automatically migrate Australian Office 365 customer data to local availability zones, with data to remain in Singapore by default.

Customers will now have to opt-in to get their Office 365 tenants migrated to the Australian data centres, which Microsoft launched to much fanfare in December 2014.

If customers fail to opt-in before the 31 October deadline, they will not be able to migrate their data from Singapore to one of the Australian data centres in Sydney and Melbourne.

A Microsoft spokesperson told CRN that the update would allow Microsoft to prioritise customers with data residency requirements, and that local data centres were designed primarily for customers in regulated industries with in-country storage of core systems.

It represents an about-turn since last September, when Microsoft announced that migration to Australian data centres had begun, and that all business customers who selected Australia as their country would automatically be migrated over coming months.

The U-turn does not affect new Office 365 customers, who will continue to see their data automatically stored in Australian data centres.

Microsoft has made a marked change in its language around Office 365 migrations. The company is now urging customers not to take action on migrations unless data sovereignty concerns demands their core data be stored in Australia.

Last year, Microsoft was promoting the fact that local hosting would overcome latency concerns. "The locally hosted services provide faster performance and offer geo-redundant back-up," Steven Miller, Microsoft Australia director of applications and services group, told CRN in September.

In a new blog post, Microsoft claimed that being located closer to an Office 365 data centre doesn't guarantee better network performance.

Microsoft has been rapidly increasing its data centre footprint as it expands its cloud services. The company's CFO will effectively "write a US$15 billion cheque" for the cloud data centres that Microsoft will build this year.

Microsoft's Australian data centres host Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business, Project Online and Exchange Online Protection. Yammer will continue to be hosted offshore, while Skype for Business migrates separately.

Customers can request a migration through the Office 365 admin portal.

Microsoft would not disclose how much data has been migrated from Singapore to Australia so far.

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