Windows Azure Expands its Reach to Japan

Microsoft finally lights up its cloud platform over the Land of the Rising Sun.


In its bid to become a global cloud computing powerhouse, Microsoft is looking far and wide. This time, the Redmond, Wash.-based software company set its sights on Japan.

Takeshi Numoto, corporate vice president of Cloud and Enterprise marketing at Microsoft, announced in a Feb. 25 blog post that the company was just about to flip the switch on its Windows Azure cloud operations on that day. "I am pleased to share that Windows Azure in Japan East (Saitama Prefecture) and Japan West (Osaka Prefecture) will be generally available later Tuesday [Feb. 25]."

The expansion of Windows Azure's global footprint dovetails with the region's increasing demand for cloud computing. "Japan's cloud market has grown considerably in the last few years and this growth is only expected to increase, with the projected 2014 forecast estimated at around $1.6 billion," added Numoto, citing figures from IDC, a market research firm.

In addition to providing business customers with a bevy of software-as-a-service (SaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings, Windows Azure in Japan's dual-data-center layout can help them avert data loss. Numoto boasted that the new regions "provide local customers the ability to achieve data residency and realize data recovery scenarios, as data will be replicated between the two regions."

And by pouring billions into Windows Azure, the company clearly intends to lure businesses workloads onto its cloud.

"Building an enterprise-class cloud infrastructure that exceeds our customers' expectations is our ultimate goal," stated Numoto. To date, Microsoft has spent $15 billion on its cloud infrastructure, he added. The company claims to provide more than 1 billion customers, in 90 markets, with over 200 cloud services.

Demand for Microsoft's cloud services is brisk, reported Numoto. In Japan, Azure storage usage "has grown 10x in the last 15 months," and overall, the company finds itself "doubling capacity every six to nine months."

Microsoft's cloud strategy seems to be paying off. On Jan. 23, the company reported record revenues for the second quarter of its 2014 fiscal year. Beating Wall Street analysts' expectations, the software giant generated $24.52 billion in sales and $6.56 billion in profit during the quarter ending Dec. 31.

Revenue from its "commercial cloud services more than doubled" during that period, boasted the company. Kevin Turner, Microsoft's chief operating officer, said the rosy financials were helped, in part, by healthy adoption of the company's cloud offerings. Azure's customer base both grew by more than 100 percent (year-over-year).

"We significantly outpaced enterprise IT spend as we continue to take share from our competitors by delivering the devices and services our customers need as they transition to the cloud," said Turner in a statement.

Microsoft won't be alone in courting Japanese businesses. Building on its SoftLayer acquisition, the IT titan pledged to offer cloud services from 40 data centers in 13 countries in 2014, Japan included, as part of a $1.2 billion cloud expansion.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...