Microsoft will begin a phased rollout of its EU Data Boundary solutions to the public sector and commercial customers in the European Union (EU) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), starting from January 1, 2023.

The move will allow customers the ability to store and process their customer data within the EU Data Boundary, according to a company statement. The phased rollout of its “EU data boundary” will apply to all of its core cloud services – Azure, Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365 and Power BI platform.

This new commitment by Microsoft is aimed at greatly reducing data flows out of Europe as big businesses have become increasingly anxious about the international flow of customer data since the EU introduced the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018.

Microsoft operates more than a dozen data centres across European countries including France, Germany, Spain and Switzerland. For big companies, data storage has become so large and distributed across so many countries that it becomes difficult for them to understand where their data resides and if it complies with rules such as GDPR.

In the coming phases, Microsoft plans to expand the EU Data Boundary solution to include the storage and processing of additional categories of personal data, including data provided when receiving technical support and enable public sector and commercial customers in the EU and the EFTA to have their data processed and stored within the region.

"We are creating this solution to make our customers feel more confident and to be able to have clear conversations with their regulators on where their data is being processed as well as stored," Julie Brill, Microsoft’s Chief Privacy Officer, was quoted by Reuters in a report.