Promised sworn. Microsoft will do everything to help its European competitors in the cloud. Yes, its competitors. Because for Microsoft, tomorrow, they will also be valuable partners.
This is in any case what promises its president Brad Smith, passing through Brussels, who recalls that he began his career 29 years ago in the French branch of the publisher.
This astonishing position on form (Microsoft goes so far as to speak of “support for European Cloud Providers”) follows a complaint from OVH, criticism from Cigref and CISPE, and the rise of the corpus of regulations on the Old Continent (including the European DMA which aims to counter dominant positions in digital, or the cloud of trust in France).
Microsoft, “not necessarily the right supplier for everything”
In a long blog post with very legalistic and legitimistic accents, Brad Smith insists on the total involvement of Microsoft to comply with legal constraints and not to oppose future regulations (which is not always the same) .
The publisher’s president even goes so far as to justify a form of regulatory inflation (which he calls for, however, to be coordinated to simplify it at the global level) by the fact that digital regulation has taken a long time to start. It would therefore be a welcome catch-up.
Brad SmithPresident of Microsoft
But this multiplication of requirements has a consequence. It is now necessary to make tailor-made solutions to meet the most critical needs. “While Microsoft excels at building an efficient, scalable, and secure public cloud, that doesn’t necessarily make us the right vendor to manage all customers’ specific IT resources and services,” Smith said. “That’s why one of our priorities will be to invest in local cloud service providers across Europe and improve our relationships with them.”
The president of Microsoft particularly mentions the public sector. “We recognize that many European governments want cloud solutions more suited to their sovereign technology scenarios,” he writes. “Increasingly, they are developing regulations on data classification, to treat different categories of data in different ways.”
“We recognize both the critical importance of this need and the opportunity to work to empower governments to choose how to deploy the technology, protecting their sovereignty needs.” In short: “We recognize that some governments only want to give access to some of their workloads and some of their sensitive data to local providers”.
Office, Windows (and Windows Servers) are opening up to European cloud users
This declaration of intent is broken down into several concrete initiatives.
The first is to make it easier for European cloud providers to host and resell Windows 11, Office 365 and Microsoft 365. Microsoft also wants to simplify the Bring Your Own License for customers on these infrastructures and is committed to making its pricing more stable to its future partners.
The second initiative precisely concerns pricing. On this point, Brad Smith claims to have heard Cigref and CISPE, which jointly published the “Principles of Fair Software Licensing for Cloud Customers”.
“We will work to develop revised license terms that are more clearly written, that make it easier for customers to determine their licensing costs and more easily determine their obligations,” promises the president of Microsoft in response to the two organizations.
For the migration of licenses to the cloud (including those of the Europeans), Software Assurance will also be extended to Office, Windows and Windows Server.
Finally, regarding Windows Server, the licensing rules will be relaxed to better adapt to virtualized environments (such as the cloud). “With the changes we’re making, customers will now be able to license just the virtualized compute capacity they need, without having to count the number of physical cores the virtualized environment is hosted on,” Smith said. .
Towards a multiplication of partnerships for data sovereignty
Until now, Microsoft’s strategy in the sovereign cloud had been to partner with “trusted local players” (sic) to create joint ventures that resell and manage a Microsoft cloud from floor to ceiling, but a priori immune to US law.
In France, this is the philosophy of Bleu (with Orange and Capgemini) announced in May 2021 to respond to the government’s Cloud of Trust. Bleu is not yet operational, but Microsoft has made similar announcements in other countries: with Telefonica in Spain (including an offer for Defense), and with SAP and Arvato in Germany in February 2022.
Each time, it is a question of providing a “sovereign” cloud in the sense of “data sovereignty” (the data is managed and manipulated by a local actor, the technology remaining American). Google did the same in France with a GCP “supervised” by Thales in a French capital structure.
Microsoft will continue this strategy, says Brad Smith.
Microsoft had also launched an “almost” sovereign offer – the EU Data Boundary for the Microsoft Cloud. The president of the publisher today qualifies this offer as a “step”, an expression that the cloud manager of Oracle in Paris had also used for his first Zone France.
An OVH spokesperson
OVH, one of the largest European players in the cloud, which already offers an operational trusted cloud, and also at the origin of the complaint in Brussels against Microsoft, has already reacted to these promises.
“Microsoft recognizes the merits of our complaint”, welcomes the Frenchman in an exchange with the editorial staff of MagIT, ” [mais] we consider it regrettable that it is necessary to go so far as to mobilize the competent authorities to secure the conditions of a market where competition is both free and healthy”.
“We are now waiting to see the concrete conditions for the exercise of these resolutions”, continues a cautious OVHcloud which says it is “determined to defend a fair playing field for the European cloud ecosystem”.