Microsoft to open data centers in Dubai and Abu Dhabi

Microsoft announced plans to open its first data centers in the Middle East, while expanding its data centers in Europe.

The Middle East data centers will be located Abu Dhabi and Dubai in United Arab Emirates. Microsoft said it will make its cloud-computing products, including Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics 365, available in the region early next year. According to a forecast by research firm Gartner, Middle East and North Africa (MENA) IT spending is expected to hit $155 billion in 2018, a 3.4% increase from 2017.

“We see enormous opportunity in MEA (Middle East and Africa) for cloud technology to be the key driver of economic development, as well as provide sustainable solutions to many pressing issues such as youth employability, education and healthcare,” said Samer Abu-Ltaif, president of Microsoft Middle East Africa, in a press statement. “We will continue to work with governments and organizations across the region to accelerate their digital transformation, and I am excited about the role that our new data centers will play in this transformation.”

These efforts are part of a wider initiative by Microsoft to expand its cloud services globally. The company intends to bring new cloud regions in Switzerland and build upon its presence in Germany with additional cloud options. Microsoft also announced the general availability of Azure and Office 365 from new cloud regions in France.

“Over the last three years, we’ve more than doubled the number of Azure regions available,” wrote Jason Zander, corporate vice president at Microsoft Azure, in a company blog post. “As of today, Azure has more regions than any other cloud provider. We’ve announced a goal to be in 50 regions across the globe, including plans for 12 new regions.”

In addition to extending its cloud services, Microsoft is looking to gain an edge over competitors like Amazon Web Services (AWS), which also plans to bring its first infrastructure region to the Middle East in early 2019. For the fourth quarter of 2017, AWS reported $5.11 billion in revenue. For Microsoft’s fourth quarter of 2017, the company reported $5.3 billion in revenue. Microsoft reported revenue growth rate of 56% in the quarter, surpassing Amazon’s revenue growth rate of 45%. The increase in Microsoft’s revenues was driven by Microsoft Azure cloud revenues, which grew 98% in the last quarter of 2017.

Oracle is among the other cloud company’s to boost its presence in the Middle East in recent years. In January 2016, Oracle CEO Mark Hurd announced plans to establish a data center in Abu Dhabi. Additionally, the company has said its wants to expand its implementation of artificial intelligence and machine learning across the Middle East and Africa region.

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