Microsoft has been steadily growing its cloud business into one of its largest revenue-generating divisions. Now it’s expanding its footprint in the fast-growing cloud market in Asia.
The company announced Wednesday that, in partnership with Chinese data center services provider 21Vianet, a public preview of Windows Azure in China will be available on June 6.
That makes Microsoft the first multinational organization to make public cloud services available in China. (Currently, the major cloud providers in China are the China-based Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, according to 21Vianet.)
Microsoft also plans to hire several thousands workers in China over the next year to support the Azure services and its Windows Phone smartphones, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said, according to a Bloomberg report. (A company spokeswoman said the company could not confirm that report.)
Ballmer did not specify how many new workers would be hired but they would presumably be added to the current 4,000 employees in China, according to the Bloomberg report.
In addition, the company said it would be opening data centers in Japan and Australia, allowing Windows Azure to be deployed locally there. Windows Azure is already accessible now to users in those countries. But local deployment provides additional benefits for Azure users such as disaster recovery, data sovereignty and improved performance.
The new locations will add to Microsoft’s Windows Azure data centers in the Asia Pacific region which, so far, are in Singapore and Hong Kong.
“With IDC forecasting that Asia’s cloud computing market will reach US$16.3 billion by 2016 (excluding Japan), we’re working hard to bring these new Windows Azure regions and Windows Azure in China, operated by 21Vianet, online,” Satya Nadella, president of Microsoft’s Server & Tools business, said in a blog post.
In other Azure news, the company said it has now incorporated a new interoperable messaging standard in the Windows Azure Service Bus, allowing developers to more easily exchange messages between different applications using differing development languages.