Rulings like Safe Harbour, which stipulates that US companies need a presence in Europe, has forced big American giants like Microsoft and Box to build data centres in Germany, Ireland, and elsewhere. The projects, which also bring significant investment to the countries in question, show just how important Europe is, and how hard these firms will fight to win this particular battle.
Microsoft partnered with a German company, Deutsche Telekom, that will act as a go-between for the data stored in the country, in light of the European rules. According to IDC, this helps the company stay above small-scale things – like local legal disputes – while repeating the monetary rewards of European clients.
"In Europe, it's still an open question about whether doing everything on your own will win out in the end," said Nebuloni. "The closer you go to enterprise the more regulated the data is and that's when it gets more complex."
The complete package
The range of services, too, is a differentiator between AWS and Azure. Microsoft offers almost everything, from productivity software through database management to a place to host apps or 'bots', while AWS offers hosting without any of the productivity software.
This may not be a problem for Amazon, especially as many popular chat apps run on AWS, but it does mean vendors have to pick Amazon and something else, which can get annoying. Microsoft, however, has the whole package.
For the time being, the US market is basically a lock for Amazon but the European market is far more open, and the two companies are really going for it, without a clear winner in sight. Microsoft can leverage its existing relationships to get big contracts, but will likely miss out on the next billion-dollar – or billion-user – startup, which would naturally turn to AWS.
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Max Slater-Robins has been writing about technology for nearly a decade at various outlets, covering the rise of the technology giants, trends in enterprise and SaaS companies, and much more besides. Originally from Suffolk, he currently lives in London and likes a good night out and walks in the countryside.