Australian university dumps Google for Microsoft over data hosting concerns

Macquarie University is abandoning Google after the company said it would move the data to the US

It's little surprise that European governments prefer to host their data in Europe than in the US -- but now even Australian academics are expressing a preference for the Old World over the New.

On Monday, the CIO of Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, told staff that Google can no longer be entrusted with their email and calendars because it plans to host them in the US, and not the European Union.

"Data security is our top priority at Macquarie University, and following a decision made by Google to move our stored data from Europe to the United States, we initiated a market search to look at alternative options," CIO Mary Davies wrote in a letter to staff.

Macquarie's choice is another U.S. company, Microsoft: By year end, staff mailboxes and calendars will migrated to Office 365, hosted in Microsoft's Australian data centers.

Google has no data centers in Australia: Its nearest to Sydney are in Taiwan and Singapore, and it also has four in Europe and eight in the Americas.

But Google makes no promises to Google Apps users about where their data will be hosted. "Your data will be stored in Google's network of data centers. Google maintains a number of geographically distributed data centers," is as close as the service's support pages come to answering the question "Where is my organization's data stored?"

Company representatives in London were not immediately able to explain why Macquarie's data would have been hosted in Europe, nor why it might be moved to the U.S.

Macquarie is only concerned about the hosting of academics' email and calendars: Other staff documents held in Google's cloud, including those stored in Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Drive, are unaffected by the move, at least for now. Davies promised a separate review of those services in 2016.

Student email too will remain on Gmail, and they will still be expected to collaborate with staff using Google Apps.

The university began tests of Office 365 six months ago, and over 90 staff have already migrated their mailboxes, Davies wrote.

While she portrayed the move from Google's data centers to Microsoft's as being about security and data privacy, she also mentioned that the local hosting might make accessing data faster. Microsoft has data centers in New South Wales, the state in which Sydney lies, and in Victoria, just to the South, which will certainly reduce latency compared to Singapore, 6,300 kilometers away as the crow flies.

China, although not named in Davies' letter, could be another factor in the switch.

Access to Gmail is "restricted in some countries," she wrote, complicating life for staff traveling to those places, whether to recruit international students, collaborate with local academics, or visit Macquarie students abroad. The biggest market in which Google is restricted is China, a significant source of fee-paying international students for Macquarie.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Office 365Google

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?