In November, Microsoft and 21Vianet announced that they were working together to bring Azure, a infrastructure-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service product, to China. Today the firms stated that the service will go live on June 6th.
21Vianet, a Chinese company, claims that it is the “largest carrier-neutral Internet data center services provider” in the country, making it a sensical fit for Microsoft.
21Vianet has 81 data centers in 42 cities in China, meaning that it can serve Azure effectively in the country. Microsoft previously estimated that the number of firms that could use Azure in China is in the “millions.”
And, a key point: It is something of an early mover in the country. Amazon’s AWS suite of cloud products that compete with Azure have a data center in Singapore, and has a minor presence in Hong Kong.
The Azure-21Vianet has a hardware and scale advantage. It’s worth nothing, of course, that Amazon’s AWS services enjoy more market and mind share in most of the world, most notably in the United States. Still, China is a massive market, which could help Microsoft untip the current market facts.
A short take on how seriously Microsoft takes Azure’s move to China: They sent Steve Ballmer, and the US Ambassador to China, Gary Locke, was on hand at the launch event. This is a big-dollar deal.
Final caveat: Given the public issues regarding cybersecurtiy and hacking, Azure in China could be a sensitive affair; if there is even a whiff of government interference, Microsoft could lose brand equity in other regions; the Chinese Internet market is in some ways unique, both positive and negative. Let’s hope that when it comes to data security, and government non-intervention, Microsoft has its path straight.
Top Image Credit: futureatlas.com