Microsoft Launches Office 365 in Switzerland

“Office 365 now has the Swiss Passport”

On December 190, Microsoft announced that their Swiss datacenters have started to deliver Office 365 services to customers in Switzerland and Lichtenstein. Switzerland is the 17th Office 365 datacenter region with datacenters located in Geneva (Switzerland South) and Zurich (Switzerland North). Deploying Office 365 to country-level datacenters is part of Microsoft’s “go local” strategy to give customers the reassurance of local data sovereignty.

Moving Office 365 Tenant Data to Switzerland

As when Microsoft launched other “go local” datacenters, existing Swiss customers who currently receive service from other Office 365 regions can ask for their tenant to be moved to Switzerland. This isn’t an overnight process as it takes time for tenant settings and data to move in such a way that there’s no chance of losing or compromising data. According to Microsoft’s datacenter move page, Swiss customers have until June 30, 2020 to request a move.

A tenant move covers “core customer data at rest.” In other words, data owned by the tenant generated by core Office 365 services like Exchange Online and SharePoint Online (including OneDrive for Business). Data for other services like Teams, Planner, Stream, and so on might or might not be covered, depending on if the service is hosted in the new datacenter region. In the case of Teams, Switzerland does host this service, but Stream, Yammer, Planner, Sway, Whiteboard, Forms, and Skype for Business Online are serviced from other datacenter regions so their data will continue to reside in those locations.

Office 365 Services available to Swiss customers
Figure 1: Office 365 Services available to Swiss customers

Microsoft’s press release talks about migrating 150 large Swiss customers already. This refers to migrating customer Azure work to the “Microsoft Cloud” rather than Office 365 tenants. Microsoft has hosted Azure in Switzerland since August 2018. Anyone who’s moved Office 365 from EMEA to the French or UK datacenters, or from the Asia-Pacific region to Australia, will attest that it’s much easier to move Azure applications and data between datacenters than it is to move Office 365 tenants.

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