MS in ME: The Emergence of Azure in Middle East
For the first time, Microsoft cloud services are now being delivered from data centres in the Middle East, with the general availability of two new cloud regions in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. They join the recently unveiled cloud regions in Johannesburg and Cape Town, bolstering Microsoft’s investment in digital transformation and economic growth across the Middle East and Africa (MEA).
Azure and Office 365 are available from the new data centres in the Middle East, forming part of a growing portfolio of integrated cloud infrastructure, platform, data, application and collaboration services. Dynamics 365 and Power Platform, offering the next generation of intelligent business applications and tools, are anticipated to be available from the cloud regions in UAE by the end of 2019.
A recent Microsoft study found that 70 percent of organisations in the Middle East are planning to move their IT infrastructure to the cloud in the coming year. At the same time, use of the cloud among medium and large organisations in Africa has more than doubled from less than 50 percent in 2013, to near pervasive use by last year.
In an environment where organisations are increasingly wary of cyber-attacks, the security and reliability of cloud services has become a catalyst for continued cloud adoption, as organisations can transition to the cloud while maintaining security and meeting growing compliance needs. Data residency in the UAE will help enable government organisations and enterprises to comply with in-country regulations.
Microsoft is the first cloud service provider in the UAE to achieve the Dubai Electronic Security Centre (DESC) certification for its cloud services, meaning the Dubai government and semi-government entities are able to use the new data center regions.
The growth of Microsoft’s cloud footprint is expected to play a strong role in job creation and economic growth across the region. A recent study by the International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts that the cloud and Microsoft ecosystem is set to create more than half a million jobs in the Middle East by 2022.
Organizations in the UAE that have already signed up for Azure include the Emirates Group, Emaar Properties, Majid Al Futtaim, Jumeirah Hotels and Resorts, Landmark Group, Abu Dhabi Global Markets (ADGM), Miral, Daman Insurance, RAK Ceramics, Imdaad, Gulf Air, Viva, Kuwait Finance House, Dubai World Trade Center, and Dubai Airports
Microsoft’s growing cloud network will also bring increased opportunities for partner growth. A past IDC study found that the Microsoft partner ecosystem earns more than US$9 for every US$1 of Microsoft revenue, driving a positive impact in the broader economy.
With the launch of its South African cloud regions earlier this year, Microsoft became the first global provider to deliver cloud services from data centres in Africa. In May, Microsoft announced it was bringing its first Global Development Centres to the region with sites in Kenya and Nigeria, helping drive local innovation for global impact.
Microsoft, whose cloud infrastructures serve more than a billion customers globally, expects its number of cloud sites to grow 25 per cent over the next few years. The regional expansion more than doubled in the last three years and the company has announced 50 areas worldwide.
There is an uptick in e-commerce and economic diversification agendas that look to decrease reliance on oil and build knowledge-based economies as set out in the UAE’s Vision 2021 plan and Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.
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