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Microsoft switches on Azure in China

Partner 21Vianet will have the keys to the datacentre though

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Microsoft stole a march on its cloudy rivals today by announcing its Azure cloud services are available in China.

Redmond revealed as far back as May 2013 that it had signed a deal with local player 21Vianet to provide Azure in the Middle Kingdom, and it has been around in beta for a few months. However, this week will see the service formally made available for the first time.

Microsoft veep for cloud and enterprise marketing, Takeshi Numoto, proudly announced that the launch would make the firm the “first global company” to launch cloud services inside the Great Firewall.

As noted by El Reg previously, it seems as if the loss of control to a local partner, an undeniable part of doing business in China, was a small price to pay for access to a potentially huge market.

Numoto had this to say about 21Vianet:

21Vianet is a trusted and reliable partner who can deliver the quality and reliability that Microsoft Azure customers require, delivering Azure service from multiple locations in China to enable critical disaster recovery scenarios. In fact, 21Vianet has already delivered fully functional cloud services to more than 3,000 customers in China, including CNTV, LineKong, GMW.cn and Coca-Cola China.

At the time of the May 2013 announcement it was reported that Microsoft had trained and certified over 100 21Vianet employees to use its Azure platform.

Under the terms of the deal the US firm is only able to provide support and troubleshooting and must request access to the data centre from 21Vianet.

Still, it’s something of a coup for Microsoft, and sees the firm go where the likes of Amazon and Google have so far failed to float a cloud into China.

Redmond has in the past predicted China’s cloud computing market will grow from $297m in 2011 to $3.8bn in 2020, and Numoto quoted IDC stats that the market has expanded 40 per cent since 2012.

Microsoft will be hoping its latest China venture is less controversial than Bing and Skype have been, although it will be forced to grant access to servers if requested by the authorities.

The China switch-on comes barely a month after Microsoft Azure officially launched in Japan. ®

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