Microsoft on Tuesday launched a public cloud for government customers, offering greater control over their data, and has signed up Italian defence group Leonardo and Belgian telecoms firm Proximus as partners.
The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a digital transformation in many public sector organisations, and Microsoft expects to use its "Cloud for Sovereignty" to better compete with rivals such as Amazon Web Services and Alphabet's Google.
The size of the global government cloud market is expected to reach $71.2 billion by 2027 from $27.6 billion in 2021, according to market research firm Imarc Group.
"We do expect customers around the world ... but the first few customers have been in Europe," corporate vice president Corey Sanders said in an interview, adding that the company is conducting private previews with customers.
The European Union has been at the forefront of privacy and security legislation and its privacy watchdog launched a probe earlier this year into the public sector's use of cloud-based services to check if they comply with its privacy safeguards.
Both business and government customers increasingly use the data centres of big tech companies in the form of public clouds rather than building their own infrastructure.
Apart from latest tech capabilities and lower cost, Microsoft said its cloud product would fulfil obligations around data governance, security controls, privacy of citizens, data residency and other legal requirements.
The company is also working with other local partners to provide tailor-made clouds for local governments.