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Windows Azure Now Spans U.S. East and West

Microsoft yesterday announced that Windows Azure datacenters now provide coverage for both U.S. East and West regions.

Not all components are ready yet, as SQL Azure coverage is expected to arrive "in the coming months," according to Microsoft's announcement. Current customers of Windows Azure, which is Microsoft's platform-as-a-service cloud-based operating system, can see the added datacenter coverage via the Microsoft's Windows Azure Management Portal.

Those who work with datacenters point out that location only is important with respect to network latency and its potential effects on a Web application housed in the Internet cloud. Beyond those technical details, datacenter location is not so important in the United States because company data isn't restricted by regulations to a particular state or region. The U.S. government may have the legal authority to tap that corporate data without notice, although Microsoft's legal counsel has argued in a blog post that this authority under the U.S.A. Patriot Act is "negligible."

The situation is different across European Union countries, which may require that companies store their data within the country of origin or have other legal restrictions that service providers must observe. The European Commission announced in January that it was working to streamline data protection rules across EU countries to a single set of rules. At present, the regulations vary country to country.

For organizations looking to check how network latency may affect their Windows Azure apps, Microsoft describes how to test for it in this blog post.

Microsoft, in any case, did not identify where the U.S. datacenters are located. Veteran Microsoft reporter Mary Jo Foley offered an old Microsoft slide from Microsoft's fiscal-year 2010 showing very rough possible locations.

Also this week, Microsoft rolled out a new "trust center" portal for Windows Azure that provides resources for organizations looking for policy information associated with the service. The portal houses details about Microsoft's policies with regard to legal compliance, security and privacy issues. It also has some information about Microsoft's contractual compliance in the EU as a service provider.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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