Microsoft beat Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google to the punch in the Middle East by opening up two data center regions.
The new data centers, which are located in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), are now serving up Microsoft Azure and Office 365 applications and services, with Dynamics 365 and Power Platform slated to be available in those regions by the end of 2019.
Microsoft first announced its Middle East expansion in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in March. In partnership with the Saudi government, Google Cloud is building data centers Saudi Arabia. AWS has said that it expects its Middle East data center will be online in Bahrain this year. According to a story by Gulf News, Alibaba Group has a data center in Dubai while Oracle has a center in Abu Dhabi.
The cloud providers are rushing to provide their services across the lucrative Middle East, which will not only boost digital transformations for businesses in those countries but also provide additional jobs. The International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts that cloud services could bring more than half a million jobs to the Middle East, including the potential of more than 55,000 new jobs in UAE, between 2017 and 2022.
"Local data center infrastructure stimulates economic development for both customers and partners alike, enabling companies, governments, and regulated industries to realize the benefits of the cloud for innovation, as well as bolstering the technology ecosystem that supports the innovation," according to a Microsoft blog. "We anticipate the cloud services delivered from UAE to have a positive impact on job creation, entrepreneurship, and economic growth across the region."
In the Wednesday blog post, Microsoft touted its expertise in data protection, security, and privacy, including compliance certifications. Having two regions in UAE will allow companies to comply with regulatory requirements that data be stored in the country. Microsoft said it was the first cloud service provider in UAE to achieve the Dubai Electronic Security Center certification for its cloud services.
Microsoft Azure’s revenue increased by 73% in the recent third quarter, which was slightly down from the previous quarter, but there's plenty of runway left for future growth as businesses continue to transition their servers and data storage to Azure's infrastructure.
The software giant's “Intelligent Cloud” division, which includes Azure and other cloud- and server-based products, reported revenue of $9.7 billion, up 22% from the year-ago quarter, while server products and cloud services revenue increased 27%.
Microsoft still trails AWS by a significant margin in the cloud sector. According to a February report by Synergy Research Group, Amazon Web Services increased its market share at the end of last year to the point where it is equivalent in size to the next four competitors combined. In order, Microsoft, Google, IBM and Alibaba held the top spots after AWS, according to Synergy Research Group.
Microsoft's cloud infrastructures serve more than a billion customers and 20 million businesses.