In this article, our Chief Editor and MVP Sigi Jagott and MVP Tom Arbuthnot discuss the impact of multiple Office 365 data centers on your Teams and Office 365 data.

Some of you may or may not know there are different versions of Office 365 for different regions. For example, you can have the ‘German version’, which has been around for a year.

Microsoft has lots of Go Local data centers around the world, but Germany used to have a version run by T-Systems which was an independent and isolated version. China also had something similar, but they now have Azure China.

The German version of T-Systems is no longer ‘active’, you can still use it but you can’t apply new tenants to it. Recently, Microsoft has announced the introduction of local data centers in Germany, South Africa, and South Korea. You can read more about this in Tom’s blog.

When Microsoft open a new data center, they initially focus on Azure, which is very unique to Microsoft. Microsoft has the Azure and the Office 365 business, so they can invest in all these local data centers.

If you’re in Tom’s space in Microsoft Teams and you’re a competitor vendor, it wouldn’t necessarily make sense for you to make a data center dedicated to collaboration in South Africa, but absolutely makes sense for Microsoft to make a data center for Azure and the whole of Office 365 because their serving in that region.

What we’re seeing is Microsoft putting tonnes of investment in these local data centers, but they are different, some of them are for Azure, some are for Office 365, some are for both and have Teams data local as well.

Office 365 core services such as Exchange, SharePoint come first, and Teams comes later. This is because Teams runs on lots of different microservices, it’s not run on one monolithic product data deployed in the data center. So, they have to run instances of those microservices in regions to keep your data local.

This basically comes from customer demand, if lots of customers and typically these are government or healthcare customers require this it then gets implemented. Germany is very tight on data being in country borders, so any countries with that tight requirement tend to get local services first. Similarly, Switzerland has also recently had a new data center announced. The financial services there are also closely controlled, so having data in borders there is very important to them.

However, the main difference between the Black Forest and German cloud is that it’s part of the global Office 365. It supports full collaborative work, gains access to all the new features immediately, and it’s a real benefit.

You still get all the features from Office 365, but if you nominate to go to a local data center, be aware of what’s available in that center. You will see a lag on features because they tend to go out to regions first, then into the Go Locals.

It’s also a problem to move the data between the data centers if it’s possible at all. This is challenging because usually when services launch in local data centers, new tenants can elect to be there from day one.

If you want to move your data from a region to Go Local then you have to raise a support ticket with Microsoft and have various conversations, it depends on what workload you’re using, and how much data you have. There’s no magic button you can click just to move all your data from one data center to another, and it is a project.

This also takes a long time, and some data may not be moved at all. It depends on the individual services you use in Office 365. We talk about in an upcoming video, how it’s tricky to move data for Teams, so that’s one of those workloads where you should engage with Microsoft if you need local support.

 This is an important topic to consider for IT Admins, the key takeaways here are:

  • If you’re in a tenant, it will take half a year or a few months at least to move to a new data center
  • Make sure you talk to Microsoft regularly and see if there are any changes
  • Talk about what workloads you’re using
  • Consider it as a project and not a button you can just push
  • When you build a new tenant, make that decision carefully first, don’t just build the tenant and then decide because moving later is harder – and we say this lightly, it’s not even harder, it’s a nightmare.  

About the Author

Siegfried Jagott

Siegfried is a Microsoft MVP for Office Apps and Services. He has great expertise in Office 365 implementations with a special focus on Security, Messaging and Identity for international customers.

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