Microsoft boosts Japan Azure offering, adds data centers in two regions

The company said the new data centers will aid disaster recovery

Microsoft will boost its Azure cloud offering in Japan, adding two domestic data centers to speed response times and improve reliability in the face of natural disasters.

The software giant said Thursday that it would add cloud-based hosting services in two regions, one near Tokyo and one in the Kansai region further south. Redundancy is a priority in earthquake-prone Japan, where the use of online services usually skyrockets after natural disasters.

"By using two sub-regions, customers will be able build configurations with domestic disaster recovery, and performance will be improved," said Yasuyuki Higuchi, President of Microsoft Japan.

Azure competes in Japan with offerings like Amazon's EC2 infrastructure and local cloud providers such as Sakura. Microsoft is a trusted name in corporate Japan but Azure has a reputation for being slower than rival offerings.

A review last year by Gijutsu-Hyohron, a local media firm, praised Azure's control tools but said the service was slow to start up instances and there is a lack of Japanese support materials.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer visited Tokyo to announce the expanded services and plug the platform, saying it would give Japanese customers more control over their data and better performance. He said it is used by over half of the Fortune 500 companies and has over 20,000 customers.

Last month, research firm IDC predicted that the market for cloud services like Azure and EC2 will grow from ¥93.3 billion (US$910 million) in 2012 to over ¥300 billion by 2017.

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