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article imageMicrosoft expands its Azure cloud in Europe and the Middle East

By James Walker     Mar 14, 2018 in Technology
Microsoft has announced it's expanding its Azure public cloud network into several new regions. The expansion includes Microsoft's first datacentres in the Middle East, which will be situated in the UAE. The company said it wants to reach 50 regions.
Middle East datacentres
Announced in a news release today, the new datacentre locations reflect the ongoing growth in demand for Microsoft's cloud services. Its Azure platform is now one of the company's largest revenue contributors. Microsoft said the addition of more datacentre facilities means Azure now has the largest global presence of any public cloud provider.
Microsoft is opening its first datacentres in Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates. It's also adding two more facilities to its locations in Germany. In addition, the company said its cloud platform is now generally available in France. French customers can begin to use locally-hosted Azure and Office 365 solutions from today, with support for Dynamics 365 following next year.
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Of the new locations, the United Arab Emirates site is the most significant for Azure's long-term growth. Expanding into the Middle East will make Microsoft's platform more competitive, allowing customers in the region to store their data closer to home. This improves performance and can be a requirement for compliance with data protection standards.
Microsoft told CNBC that it sees "enormous opportunity" to provide cloud facilities in the Middle East and Africa. In a news release, it added that local cloud networks enable "tremendous" economic growth and can improve relationships between customers and providers.
"We’re deepening our investment in the Middle East with these first cloud regions, which will be in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates," said Microsoft.
"We have long-standing expertise and deep local relationships in the Middle East. We strive to combine that knowledge with our cloud services to help public and private institutions scale to meet the tremendous economic growth and technological innovation in the country and across the region."
Chinese expansion
Separately today, Microsoft announced it will "reinforce" its long-term cooperation with its Chinese Azure partner 21Vianet. The company engaged with 21Vianet in 2013, enabling it to meet Chinese government requirements that foreign cloud providers partner with local operators. Although details of the extended partnership haven't been revealed, Microsoft has previously said it will triple its Chinese cloud capacity during the first half of 2018.
The expansions will help Microsoft to sustain the growth of its increasingly popular Azure solutions. While it still trails behind market leader Amazon Web Services, Azure is in a stable second position with 20 percent market share. Amazon is currently thought to account for 62 percent of the global cloud market but has begun to lose out to Microsoft in recent quarters.
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