Microsoft Expands Its Cloud Footprint into Africa

Microsoft is significantly extending the reach of its cloud-based services by building new datacenters in South Africa, the company announced recently.

The plans include providing Dynamics 365, Azure and Office 365 services from "datacenters located in Johannesburg and Cape Town" beginning sometime next year, according to an announcement last week by Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Microsoft's Cloud and Enterprise Group.

The services will be "enterprise grade," and Microsoft also plans to offer "data residency." The data residency qualification refers to legal requirements by some governments that data be stored within a given country or region. It's a requirement across European Union countries, for instance.

The buildout in South Africa will bolster Microsoft's overall infrastructure to "40 cloud regions around the world," according to the announcement. Microsoft claimed that its region count is "more than any other cloud provider."

Microsoft's Azure service regions can be seen at this page, which also shows the proposed datacenters in "South Africa North" and "South Africa West." Microsoft's Office 365 and Dynamics CRM Online regions are shown at this page, although the company won't disclose precise locations.

Microsoft claimed in another announcement that it is already providing some cloud services in Africa: "Across Africa, Microsoft has brought 728,000 small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) online to help them transform and modernize their businesses, and over 500,000 are now utilizing Microsoft cloud services, with 17,000 using the 4Afrika hub to promote and grow their businesses."

The new buildout in South Africa is expected to open new opportunities for Microsoft's partners, too. Microsoft currently has "17,000 regional partners and customers alike" in Africa, according to the announcement.

All told, Microsoft is claiming to provide services to "over a billion customers and 20 million businesses around the globe."

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.