Microsoft announced general availability of Microsoft Azure public cloud in China on Wednesday. Microsoft first announced a partnership with 21Vianet and its plans for Azure in China last year, and has now shared details of the general release in a blog post.
Microsoft says the general release makes it the first public cloud service to be offered to the general public in China by a global vendor. The general release comes after a trial period in which the Azure platform accumulated over 3,000 customers, including high profile domestic businesses like China Network Television, Coca-Cola China and online game developer Linekong.
Azure was also released to general availability in Japan last month, as competition in the Asia-Pacific region ramps up.
“IDC reports a sustained growth rate of more than 40 percent in the public cloud service market in China since 2012, making the market a particular hot spot for cloud,” said Takeshi Numoto, Corporate VP, Cloud & Enterprise Marketing for Microsoft in the blog post. “Microsoft has more than 20 years of experience delivering our products and services to China. Now through our unique partnership with 21Vianet, we are delighted that customers throughout China will be able to experience world-class public cloud services powered by Microsoft Azure.”
The IDC report Numoto refers to is just one of numerous indications that Chinese cloud adoption is taking off.
In September, Netcraft reported an 8.3 percent yearly growth in web-facing computers in China, and also that Chinese net growth is driven by companies with domestic target markets. By making Azure available to many of those companies before other top international hosting brands, Microsoft hopes to take an early lead in the lucrative market.
In an attempt to meet the growing demand for cloud services in mainland China, global cloud companies are piling in. AWS plans to launch a Chinese cloud region in 2014 and Intel Capital announced investments in three Chinese cloud providers in February. IBM reached an agreement in December to make its SCE+ private cloud infrastructure and managed services available in China, which like Azure is made possible by a partnership with 21Vianet.
Domestic players also provide competition. Alibaba Group is named in the above Netcraft study as China’s top host, and China Unicom launched “Wo Cloud” last year.
While concerns about data security and other issues continue to challenge foreign businesses, the huge number of Chinese companies selling to Chinese customers and likely to adopt cloud computing are unlikely to share all of those concerns, so domestic cloud use in mainland China is full speed ahead.