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Microsoft joins the cloud-empire club with Japanese bit barns

New Azure locations mean the sun never sets on Redmond's empire

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At its peak, it was said that the sun never set on the British Empire – now you can say the same thing about Microsoft's global fleet of cloud data centers.

The software company announced on Tuesday that it had brought two Japanese bit barns online located in Saitama Prefecture (Japan East) and Osaka Prefecture (Japan West).

With these new facilities, Microsoft is now operating 10 distinct Azure regions around the world, including four in the US, two in Europe, and now four in Asia. It has also launched a cloud service in China with a local partner, though this is not typically accessible outside that country.

It can also say, like cloud king Amazon Web Services, that the sun never sets on its facilities. Cloud rival Google, by comparison, lacks an Asia Pacific set of data centers for its cloud services.

"These new regions will help fulfill the current and future needs of our cloud customers with secure and highly available services that help them grow their business," wrote Microsoft's corporate vice president of cloud and and enterprise marketing, Takeshi Numoto, in a canned blog post.

"In addition," he said, "they provide local customers the ability to achieve data residency and realize data recovery scenarios, as data will be replicated between the two regions."

Demand for storage usage in Japan has grown by ten times in the past 15 months, Numoto said, and Azure itself is doubling in capacity every six to nine months.

"We look forward to growing Japan's cloud market, offering customers new options while helping push cloud adoption forward across the globe," he added.

Though Google is yet to announce a cloud expansion to Asia Pacific, it did launch an international disk-import service last November, which lets people send it HDDs or SSDs which are then manually loaded into its cloud via "OmNomNom" machines [Yes, really—Ed.]. ®

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