Man walking through room full of computer servers

Microsoft has doubled size of UK Azure regions, increasing compute capacity by more than 1,500%, as country embraces digital transformation

Microsoft today announced it has more than doubled the size of its Azure regions in the UK with the addition of Availability Zones, increasing compute capacity by more than 1,500% since they were first brought online in 2016.

The expansion will further help UK organisations continue their move to the cloud as part of their digital transformation journeys and builds on Microsoft’s strong presence in the UK. The move is likely to appeal to public sector organisations interested in hosting potentially sensitive information securely and locally.

Microsoft’s cloud platform, Azure, is used by the Department for Education, HM Revenue and Customs, and NHS Blood and Transplant, as well as numerous councils across the country. They can use two Azure regions in the UK – South and West – which host data for organisations and businesses based anywhere in the world.

Within the first month of Microsoft’s cloud services going online from the UK, the company shared that more than 1,000 customers had already signed up to access services. Today, tens of thousands of organisations across the country are utilising the Microsoft cloud services delivered from the UK.

Microsoft has continued to invest in its cloud infrastructure and service capabilities to meet the demand of this expanding customer base. As part of this investment, Microsoft today announced the launch of Azure Availability Zones in UK South. Availability Zones offer customers access to separate, physical locations within an Azure region featuring independent networking, power and cooling, as well as more protection and choice when using Microsoft’s cloud.

Everything you need to know about Microsoft’s cloud

Availability Zones give users protection from potential hardware and software failures so they can deliver their services with confidence. For anyone using two or more Availability Zones in the same Azure region, Microsoft guarantees Virtual Machine connectivity to at least one instance 99.99% of the time.

ClearBank, the UK’s first new clearing bank in more than 250 years, uses Azure delivered from Microsoft’s UK cloud regions, and is looking forward to the new zones. Nigel Walder, Chief Operating Officer, said: “We welcome Availability Zones in UK South as it will enable us to provide improved resilience and scalability more effectively as ClearBank continues with the launch of new products. Since the inception of ClearBank, Azure has been a core component of our platform and the enhanced zonal resiliency will ensure we can serve our customers even more effectively.”

Azure has announce 54 regions around the world – more than any other cloud provider – and Microsoft is seen as a trusted cloud partner for business, with global infrastructure relied on by more than 95% of the Fortune 500.

The company has been committed to the UK for more than 30 years, driving advances in cloud computing, developing new ways for people to interact with technology at home, at work and on the move, while transforming education and public services and supporting the UK economy.

Global map showing Azure regions and Availability Zones

Microsoft Azure regions and Availability Zones (click to enlarge)

Cindy Rose, Chief Executive of Microsoft UK, said: “The Microsoft cloud has become a core component to the strategies of thousands of UK organisations since the launch of services from our UK cloud regions in 2016. We continue to make significant investments to ensure that our customers are able accelerate their digital transformation journeys and their adoption of cloud services. By doubling our UK regions and increasing our compute capacity by more than 1,500%, our customers can have the confidence they can access any Azure services available in UK regions whenever they want. The launch of Availability Zones takes Azure to a new level in the UK by offering customers increased reliability, business continuity and peace of mind for their data and services.”

Microsoft has also announced the availability of Azure DevOps in the UK South region. The service lets users create software, using tools that Microsoft has invested in and developed over the past 15 years. In the previous month alone, more than 100,000 internal Microsoft users and millions of customers have used these services to build their own products and release them to the cloud and to their on-premise data centres.

Azure DevOps contains tools that span the complete development of software, helping customers ship quicker and with higher quality. Features include Azure Pipelines, which lets you continuously build, test and deploy to any platform and cloud; Azure Boards, which allows teams to easily plan, track and collaborate; Azure Repos to store and collaborate on source code, Azure Artifacts for sharing packages inside your company and Azure Test Plans, which lets users improve their code with testing services.