Microsoft to open Azure Cloud data centers in Africa in 2018
Microsoft Corp. is eyeing African customers for its Azure cloud with the opening of its first two data centers on the continent.
The company announced on Thursday it’s planning to open two new facilities in Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa, in a move that will stretch its cloud presence to 40 regions globally. Up until now, Microsoft’s African customers have had to use Microsoft’s European data centers in locations such as Ireland and the Netherlands.
“We’re excited by the growing demand for cloud services in Africa and the ability of the cloud to act as a catalyst for new economic opportunities,” Scott Guthrie, Microsoft’s executive vice president for cloud and enterprise, said in a statement. “With cloud services ranging from intelligent collaboration to predictive analytics, the Microsoft Cloud delivered from Africa will enable developers to build new and innovative apps, customers to transform their businesses, and governments to better serve the needs of their citizens.”
The advantage for Microsoft is that by bringing its data centers closer to African customers, it will be able to accelerate cloud-service delivery and help companies comply with local laws that insist on certain data being stored locally. Microsoft’s expansion into Africa gives it an edge over its biggest cloud rival Amazon Web Services, which has yet to establish a presence on the continent, as it’s able to better serve organizations with latency-sensitive workloads. Rival cloud company IBM Corp. does have a presence in Africa however, having opened its first South African data center in March 2016, though that facility is mainly focused on serving customers of German enterprise software firm SAP SE.
Microsoft’s Guthrie said in a blog post the availability of cloud services from Africa will fuel business growth and spur entrepreneurship in the area. The company will begin offering Azure compute power, Dynamics 365 and Office 365 applications from its South African data centers in 2018.
Microsoft already counts a number of large African enterprises among its customers, including Standard Bank Group Ltd., which is one of the largest banks in South Africa.
“To achieve success as a business, we need to keep pace with market developments as well as customer needs, and Office 365 empowers us to make a culture shift towards becoming a more dynamic organisation, whilst Azure enables us to deliver our apps and services to our customers in Africa,” said Brenda Niehaus, group chief information officer at Standard Bank.
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