‘Data residency’ is behind Microsoft’s decision to open its first data centres in the Middle East.

Microsoft in the Middle East

The US tech giant revealed on 19 June that the Middle East’s first cloud regions are now operational in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Microsoft first announced plans for local data centres in March 2018.

Dubai and Abu Dhabi were chosen as paired locations within the UAE to provide higher data availability and to aid in recovery in the event of failure.

“These new cloud regions in the UAE are the dawn of a new era, driving digital transformation, economic growth and job creation,” says regional general manager for Microsoft Gulf, Sayed Hashish. “Now, more customers in the Middle East can move with confidence to the trusted and intelligent Microsoft Cloud.”

Microsoft is also the first cloud service provider in the UAE to achieve Dubai Electronic Security Centre’s (DESC) cloud service provider certification. Existing local customers do not need to shift their data to the new centres, but can do so with ease if needed.

“Another option is hybrid cloud, where you can use different Microsoft data centres [to store data] as well as your own on-premises infrastructure,” says Microsoft Gulf’s cloud and enterprise business group lead Necip Ozyucel. “Cloud is a great enabler for customer success and for their digital transformation.”

Ozyucel cites ‘data residency’ as a critical factor behind the establishment of data centres in the UAE. “This will especially help government organisations and financial institutions to have a trustworthy, local data infrastructure.”

The data centres will provide both Azure and Office 365 cloud services.

Data infrastructure

Microsoft joins a growing list of international tech corporations launching data centres in the region.

Construction work is underway on Amazon Web Services’ three data centres in Bahrain.

US-based tech corporation Oracle established its first Middle East data centre in Abu Dhabi in February 2019, while German software company SAP made Dubai its third data centre location in the region after Riyadh and Dammam.

Chinese cloud computing company Alibaba Cloud opened its first data centre in Dubai in November 2016 in a joint venture with locally-based Meraas Holding.

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