Microsoft researchers Christian Belady and Sean James in the company's Advanced Energy Lab, a pilot natural gas-powered data center Microsoft
Microsoft researchers Christian Belady and Sean James in the company's Advanced Energy Lab, a pilot natural gas-powered data center

Microsoft Plans Its First Cloud Data Centers in Middle East

Sites to Open in Dubai, Abu Dhabi. Cloud leader Amazon plans one in Bahrain

Dina Bass (Bloomberg) -- Microsoft Corp. will open data centers in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, its first in the Middle East, part of the software maker’s rapid geographic expansion to win cloud-computing business worldwide and pry customers from Amazon.com Inc.

Microsoft also plans to open two cloud sites in Switzerland, in the Geneva and Zurich regions, and will add two new locations in Germany. The company declined to say where in Germany or specify when all the new sites will open. 

The company, based in Redmond, Washington, said in January that it would boost spending to add cloud capacity. That followed a few quarters of slower investment as Microsoft filled data centers it had already built.  Microsoft, which currently has 42 Azure cloud regions, is racing Amazon Web Services to add new areas as both companies aim to store information and applications closer to customers. That helps speed data transfers and satisfies local laws and preferences for storing some information in a client’s home country. Amazon said in September it was planning to open a cloud data center in Bahrain in 2019. 

Amazon is the largest seller of cloud services for storing data and processing applications, with market share about four times the size of No. 2 Microsoft’s. Still, Microsoft has been roughly doubling revenue in its Azure business each quarter. 

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