After the razzmatazz of the corporate Office 365 launch in NYC faded, local Microsoft subsidiaries around the world did their own thing to brief journalists and introduce details of local offerings, such as link-ups with telcos to deliver Office 365 packaged with voice and other services. I doubt that any Microsoft briefing touched on the price difference between the list price for Office 365 plans in the U.S. and those put in place for other countries, but that would be too much to ask.
In any case, one of the really interesting comments made at a local Office 365 launch came in London when Gordon Frazer, managing director of Microsoft UK, confirmed that there is no way that U.S.-based companies like Microsoft can prevent U.S. national security and law enforcement agencies accessing data held in Microsoft datacenters such as those in Dublin (Ireland) and Amsterdam (The Netherlands) used to service European Office 365 (and BPOS) customers.
Basically, if Microsoft is served in the U.S. with an injunction or other legal instrument that forces it to disclose information, it has to provide the data. Frazer said that customers would be told if their data was accessed unless a gagging order was in effect. You can read the full article on the topic on Zdnet.
Ouch! European corporations are possibly less enthusiastic about cloud services than U.S. companies and this isn’t going to help. It’s just another worry for the corporate security teams to contemplate as they consider whether their company’s data will remain safe if it is moved from on-premises servers to cloud services. And the thing at the back of my mind is a small concern that maybe Microsoft has been served with discovery orders by U.S. authorities in the past that has involved retrieval of data from BPOS servers and no one knows… because one of those blessed gagging orders was in place. Makes you think…