The Canadian Cloud is happening.

Microsoft’s plan to expand the Cloud into Canada is on track, with the delivery of an operational preview of Microsoft Azure cloud services to select customers.

Last year, we told you about the announced plans to deliver locally hosted Microsoft Cloud Services in Canada.  Now, with the Azure Preview in the Toronto and Quebec City areas, we’re that much closer to having our own virtual data centers on Canadian soil.

The preview allows a limited number of “select” customers and partners a change to run enterprise-ready Azure services, which enable scalable access to infrastructure and storage services from the new cloud platform.

According to Microsoft Canada president Janet Kennedy, “Our new local services will accelerate the potential of Canadian industries, public sector organizations, and entrepreneurs by opening opportunities to innovate, compete, and grow using the power of the cloud.”

Microsoft plans to launch (general availability) Azure from the Canadian cloud regions soon, followed by Office 365 and Dynamics CRM Online. The Canadian cloud regions are part of Microsoft’s plans for six new regions, all backed by Microsoft’s $15 billion (USD) investment in global datacentre infrastructure.

Canadian Azure customers will benefit not only from in-country data residency, but from enterprise-grade reliability and performance. There will be data replication in multiple locations within Canada for business continuity, and financially-backed service level agreements with 99.9% availability.

And, of course, the new locally delivered services in Canada feature the same levels of Microsoft security, privacy, control, compliance, and transparency.

We’re excited about the new Canadian Cloud.

How about you?