Last week I wrote about the important role the channel plays, occupying a space between cloud vendor and end user organization and adding value by ensuring technology satisfies business needs. But that’s not to say that cloud providers shouldn’t also have a direct relationship with their customers to understand their needs and factor them into the products and solutions they develop and evolve.

I spend a lot of time talking to customers about what they want from their cloud vendor. Top of their list is a service that both keeps their data secure and helps them comply with local and international law and regulations.

Recognizing and satisfying customer needs is, of course, what every company seeks to do. But recognizing customer needs and satisfying them are two different things, so I thought I’d give a couple of examples of how we are working hard to achieve this.

At this year’s RSA Europe Conference in London I announced that international security solutions group G4S had selected Windows Azure on which to deliver its eViper service which tracks $billions of cash, bullion and other valuable materials in transit around the world.

By using Windows Azure, G4S can extend eViper into new markets without having to invest in datacenters and other infrastructure. Of course, every customer’s security needs are going to be different, but I’d say G4S’s needs are at the upper end of the scale.

Concerning the second point customers frequently raise, compliance, you may have seen that last week we announced Microsoft Office 365’s compliance with two different sets of standards. First, the European Union’s model clauses, which “will help customers certify compliance with the European Commission’s stringent Data Protection Directive,” and second, the United States’ Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. That Office 365 is the first and only major cloud productivity suite to comply with these two data protection and security standards makes me very proud. Not because we are the first and only, but because we have listened to what our customers want and acted upon it.

Of course, security and compliance aren’t the only things customers want their vendors to deliver, but they are right up there. It takes sustained commitment to earn our customers’ trust to the point that they feel they can they can depend upon us to pursue their own goals.

For more resources on Microsoft Office 365, compliance, security, transparency and privacy, check out the Office 365 Trust Center.