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Why Microsoft is bringing an Azure cloud region to Taiwan

  • US tech giant plans to establish its first cloud data center region in Taiwan
  • Microsoft will also make “a significant investment” to help develop digital skills for 200,000 individuals by 2024

Microsoft looks to be the latest tech giant planning a “significant investment” in Taiwan, with moves underway to establish Microsoft’s first cloud data center region there by 2024.

The US software giant will also invest in developing local digital talents for over 200,000 people over the four years, with an eye towards turning Taiwan into an Asian design hub and home for Microsoft’s expanded Azure hardware engineering team.

Once operational, the new cloud data center region will become one of 66 global cloud regions under its belt, Microsoft clarified in a statement, and will deliver Azure cloud services along with Microsoft 365, before adding Dynamics 365 and Power Platform services to the services offered later on.

Microsoft did say the Taiwan region would include Availability Zones, which are physically separate locations within an Azure region, each comprising of at least one data center equipped with its own independent power, cooling, and networking.

To ensure data and operational resiliency, a minimum of three separate zones are established in all enabled regions, a move that Microsoft has said aims to safeguard applications and data from datacentre failures. A Southeast Asia Azure Availability Zone served out of Singapore, was launched in December 2018.

Microsoft has longstanding ties with the Taiwanese technology fraternity, having previously launched an Internet of Things (IoT) research center in Taipei, Taiwan’s capital, to connect startups and study integrating cloud and data services with the IoT supply chain.

The Windows OS creator also works with local tech firms like Acer, Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, and Trend Micro to build customized applications for their clientele. To meet the regional industry regulatory requirements, Microsoft stated that its local region would support more than 90 compliance certifications imposed on the local technology sector.

The Azure cloud data center region expansion in APAC echoes other regional cloud data center growth by other American cloud giants, including Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud. Ironically, Google was the first American tech giant to build a data center in Taiwan, nearly eight years ago.

ZDNet shared that a Microsoft spokesperson would not reveal details about the size of its investment in new data center locations, or how many customers can be supported on its local cloud data center – only that the company intends to build “scalable and resilient” infrastructure to support the needs of its customers in the market.

“What we can share right now is that cloud is creating new business opportunities that will help support economic recovery. Building the datacenter region in Taiwan is timely as it will continue to accelerate the digital transformation journey of businesses and organizations,” the Microsoft spokesperson told ZDNet, also revealing the facility will be part of Microsoft’s aim to be carbon negative by 2030, fully tapping renewable energy for its data centers by 2025.

“The [Taiwan cloud] data center region will enable private and public sectors to further embrace innovation through our cloud products and services.  More specifically, Microsoft Cloud in Taiwan will help customers to meet local data residency requirements within Taiwan, especially for highly regulated industries such as healthcare, financial services and public sector.”

The Redmond, Washington-headquartered company did not outline how many new people would be hired to man its regional infrastructure engineering team that it plans to establish. But it does target to equip a minimum of 200,000 individuals in Taiwan with digital skillsets over the next four years, offering skills acquisition programs for youth, non-profits, startups, and enterprises, with planned initiatives including reskilling workshops for women.