Windows Azure Expanding to China, Japan and Australia
Microsoft is expanding its Windows Azure service coverage in the
The expansion touches China, Japan and Australia and involves an
investment of "hundreds of millions of dollars," according to a Microsoft announcement today, attributed to Satya
Nadella, Microsoft's president of the Server and Tools Business Division.
In China, Microsoft has set up a partnership with 21Vianet and
established an agreement with the Shanghai municipal government to deliver
Windows Azure services. Sign-ups for the service will start on June 6,
making Microsoft the "first multinational organization to make public
cloud services available in China," according to the announcement. 21
Vianet has almost 100 employees that are certified to support Windows
Microsoft also announced today an "intent" to offer Windows Azure
services in Japan East (Tokyo) and Japan West (Kansai). This proposed
Windows Azure Japan region will involve continued collaboration between
Microsoft and Fujitsu Ltd., Microsoft indicated in an announcement today. The company also stated that
it has 48 partners in Japan pledged to support its newly unfurled Windows
Azure Infrastructure Services, which competes with Amazon
Web Services offerings.
Fujitsu had previously made the news a couple of years ago as the first
Microsoft partner to deploy Microsoft's Windows Azure Appliance, which is
a mixture of Windows Azure software and about 1,000 servers. However,
Microsoft has since clammed up about the appliance project, which was
supposed to have had other partners as well, such as Dell, eBay and HP. In
February, veteran Microsoft reporter Mary Jo Foley said that work on the
appliance concept had stopped, according to unnamed sources at
So, whether the appliance concept is going ahead or not is still unclear
at this point.
In addition to the Asia expansions, Microsoft has other regional plans
for Windows Azure in the works, this time in Australia. Earlier this week,
the company indicated its intentions to build Windows Azure
operations in "two subregions" located in New South Wales and Victoria,
Supposedly, this Australian Windows Azure infrastructure will allow
organizations in Australia to use Windows Azure services while maintaining
data sovereignty. U.S.-based Microsoft is subject to the U.S.A. PATRIOT
Act, which further reduces marginal U.S. FISA court protections against
U.S. government snooping on electronic traffic. Data sovereignty is a
prime concern in Europe, with some European-based companies restricted to
hosting their data only within their country of origin.
A Microsoft blog post suggested that data sovereignty, while
strengthened via the new Windows Azure datacenters to be located in
Australia, isn't a concern because Australia already has Mutual Legal
Assistance Treaties that permit the use of Microsoft's Windows Azure,
despite the potential intrusions implied by the U.S.A. PATRIOT Act. A
hybrid network, shunting sensitive data to a local private network, is
another option for companies wanting to tap Windows Azure.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.