Microsoft is further ramping up its cloud game, with plans to build between 50 and 100 new data centres each year for the foreseeable future.
Indeed, the company is slated to add data centres in at least 10 more countries this year alone, according to Noelle Walsh, Microsoft corporate vice president and leader of the team that builds and operates the company’s cloud infrastructure.
Microsoft already operates more than 200 data centres globally, with that number clearly continuing to grow. To date, the company’s operating and planned data centre footprint spans 34 countries around the world, networked together via more than 165,000 miles of subsea, terrestrial and metro optical fibre.
With its Azure offering, Microsoft is the second-largest public cloud provider in the world after Amazon Web Services (AWS), which has led the pack by a large margin for years.
In 2019, for example, AWS accounted for 33.6 per cent of the global market share for infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS), while Azure made up 18 per cent, according to industry analyst firm IDC.
However, Microsoft is clearly focused on further building its cloud standing, and quickly. Not to mention the research and development the company is undertaking in the data centre space, including undersea data centre trials and liquid bath-cooled racks.
In the Asia Pacific region alone, the company has been increasing its data centre presence. Just days ago, Microsoft revealed it would establish its first data centre region in Malaysia as part of its ‘Bersama Malaysia’ (Together with Malaysia) initiative.
The data centre region, planned for the Greater Kuala Lumpur area, will deliver Azure Availability Zones and provide access to the full Microsoft Cloud stack, including Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365 and Power Platform in addition to Azure.
In February, Microsoft unveiled plans to launch its first data centre region in Indonesia, going head-to-head with Google Cloud and AWS in a landmark move designed to deliver cloud services locally, aligned to in-country data security and privacy laws.
In October last year, the vendor revealed plans to establish its first cloud data centre region in Taiwan, along with an investment in local talent and development with the goal to provide digital skilling for over 200,000 people in Taiwan by 2024.
In March, Microsoft said it was planning to bring a new Azure Region to North China in 2022 through its local operating partner, 21Vianet.
Meanwhile, Microsoft revealed in early May last year its plans to establish its first data centre region in New Zealand, in what it described at the time as "a major milestone toward delivering enterprise-grade cloud services in the country".
For Microsoft Asia president Ahmed Mazhari, the company’s data centre ambitions are all about capturing the appetite of the market as it works to emerge from a uniquely disruptive period.
“There is no doubt that during the past year we have seen the acceleration of digital transformation efforts across all industries,” Mazhari said. “Asia now accounts for sixty per cent of the world’s growth and is leading the global recovery with the digitalisation of business models and economies.
“Cloud will continue to be a core foundation empowering the realisation of Asia’s ambitions, enabling co-innovation across industries, government and community, to drive inclusive societal progress,” he added.
In a blog post, Microsoft said that, in response to the digital transformation the market has seen, the company had accelerated the growth of its cloud data centre footprint in Asia, expanding from seven to eleven markets to better support and co-innovate with customers and partners.
“As part of this expansion, the company announced the addition of cloud regions to four new markets across Asia – Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan and New Zealand,” it said. “This expansion was combined with additional cloud infrastructure investments, empowering customers with faster access to the cloud and allowing for in-country data residency.”
With existing and announced data centre regions in Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and Taiwan, Microsoft is also working to expand its Azure Availability Zones to every country in which it operates a data centre region by the end of 2021.
In September last year, for instance, the company opened new Azure Availability Zones in Australia, with the additions coming to the Australia East data centre region, bringing the country’s local Azure availability zones up to three.