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Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty: Bridging Digital Innovation and Data Control for Governments

by Spanish Point - Sep 19, 2023
Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty: Bridging Digital Innovation and Data Control for Governments

In this age of accelerated digital transformation and the widespread use of digital tools, governments at all levels are focusing on improving their capabilities to meet citizens’ needs better while prioritising agility and security. 

One technology they’re adopting is “cloud computing” due to its advantages over traditional methods. The cloud offers vital benefits, including agility, flexibility, advanced cybersecurity features, and access to cutting-edge innovations like AI, accelerating digital transformation and delivering essential public services.

Many governments are keen to take advantage of the benefits of the public cloud while securely managing their data in compliance with local policies and regulatory requirements, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Therefore, they require solutions ensuring digital sovereignty, providing them complete control over their data within the cloud environment.

Microsoft has played a leading role in providing organisations with the necessary tools and services to lead their teams for decades. They began with products like Excel and PowerPoint, progressed to Microsoft 365 and Teams, and now embrace emerging technologies like artificial intelligence to empower modern workplaces. Microsoft is now extending its expertise to collaborate with governmental bodies, helping them to keep innovating while safeguarding their data. 

In July last year, Microsoft introduced “Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty,” a new solution that enables governments to develop and digitally transform workloads within the Microsoft cloud while addressing specific compliance, security, and policy requirements. This innovative solution establishes software boundaries in the cloud, providing the additional protection governments require by leveraging hardware-based confidentiality and encryption controls.

What is data governance?

Data governance represents a structured framework and a set of practices to ensure efficient management, control, and utilisation of data within an organisation. It encompasses the formulation of policies, procedures, roles, and responsibilities related to data management, with a primary emphasis on preserving data quality, integrity, and security. This comprehensive approach includes defining data standards, establishing clear data ownership, implementing strong data access controls, and ensuring strict compliance with data-related regulations and guidelines.

For governments, data governance takes on particular significance due to their obligation to adhere to specific requirements pertaining to diverse data classifications. These requirements span data governance, security protocols, citizen privacy, data residency, sovereign protections, and the imperative to operate in compliance with legal regulations like the GDPR.

The Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty, with its robust offerings in governance, security, transparency, and sovereign technology, coupled with strategic partnerships, stands as a unique solution. It provides unparalleled support for government customers in their journey toward digital transformation, setting it apart from any other cloud provider worldwide.

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Unlock the future of digital governance with Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty.

What are the benefits of Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty?

Compliance with legislative and regulatory requirements

Before embracing the benefits of cloud computing, government policymakers have a lot to consider. They must first have complete confidence in the security and privacy of their data while also having assurance of the ability to innovate while safeguarding their data in compliance with legislative and regulatory mandates. Microsoft is a trusted partner in this process, as the company is committed to a set of transparency commitments.

Microsoft follows the following policies across its services:

  1. Data Protection: Microsoft does not provide unrestricted access to customer data, nor do they share encryption keys with any party, including governments.
  2. Legal Process: Governments must follow legal processes, like warrants for content or court orders for subscriber information when requesting customer data. All requests must target specific accounts and identifiers, with stringent validation by Microsoft’s legal compliance team.
  3. Privacy Safeguards: Microsoft challenges data requests that do not meet legal standards and only discloses data specified in a valid legal order.

Concerns occasionally arise regarding how legislation like the U.S. CLOUD Act impacts cloud providers. Notably, these laws do not compromise data privacy protections, and Microsoft remains steadfast in upholding consistent principles when responding to government data requests.

The “Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty” bolsters data protection through additional measures, including customer-owned keys and Azure confidential computing. These safeguards ensure that data remains secure during transmission, storage, and usage, with access restricted solely to customers possessing the requisite keys.

Data protection and security

In the face of rising cyber threats, the cloud emerges as a secure haven for safeguarding sensitive data. With a global team of over 8,500 Microsoft security experts spanning 77 countries and providing invaluable insights into the ever-evolving security landscape, Microsoft is continually refining their security strategies by learning from each cyberattack and drawing upon this critical perspective.

With the introduction of the Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty, government clients can establish customised software boundaries within the cloud while benefiting from Azure’s impressive security features. This includes:

  1. Microsoft’s Azure Key Vault Managed Hardware Security Module allows customers to maintain control over cryptographic keys while leveraging cloud benefits.
  2. Azure Confidential Computing: A unique service that protects data during use, protecting it from unauthorised access. It adds an extra layer of security to data in all phases of its lifecycle.

Collaborating with Microsoft provides governments with insights into the evolving threat landscape. Microsoft’s AI capabilities analyse vast amounts of security signals daily, detecting a staggering 65 trillion daily across all devices, applications, platforms, and endpoints. This leads to better-informed security measures and swift responses to emerging threats. Their extensive network of partners further enhances their ability to provide top-tier security solutions to customers.

Innovation without compromise

Governments face the challenge of balancing digital innovation with digital sovereignty. While initially, some may think that investing in a private on-premises datacentre is the best way to ensure control and security. However, maintaining on-premises data centres is becoming less practical due to limitations in scalability and security compared to cloud solutions. Furthermore, with their tight budgets, cloud solutions offer a cost-effective alternative, allowing governments to benefit from cloud flexibility while allocating resources to innovation in service delivery.

As technology advances, cloud adoption becomes the standard. Governments embracing the cloud gain access to the latest innovations in artificial intelligence, blockchain, digital identity, and online services. In contrast, those sticking with or expanding private clouds may miss out on these advancements.

Innovating while meeting digital sovereignty requirements can be complex and varies among customers, industries, and regions. A cloud solution designed for sovereignty should provide advanced capabilities tailored to government needs. It should also be adaptable to evolving local policies and regulatory requirements for data handling.

With the Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty, governments can seamlessly blend digital innovation with data control. Microsoft’s commitment includes improving security through features like Sovereign Landing Zones, local policy packs, and increased transparency throughout Azure.

This initiative establishes a virtual sovereign cloud environment for customer workloads, allowing them to follow best practices and establish secure environments that comply with local regulations, all while fully harnessing the cloud’s potential.


Megan Byrne is a Business Development Executive helping businesses achieve their Digital Transformation goals through Microsoft innovative solutions. If you’re eager to explore how your business can benefit from Microsoft’s technology stack, schedule a call and take the first step toward unlocking your business’s full potential in the digital age.