Microsoft has announced that it is planning to build data centers in Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa by next year. The Redmond, Washington-based software giant is counting on the data centers to help the company win more business on the continent. Microsoft will also be in a position to deliver various services such as Office 365 more efficiently to users located in Africa.
“We’re excited by the growing demand for cloud services in Africa and their ability to be a catalyst for new economic opportunities,” read a statement from Microsoft’s cloud and enterprise executive vice president, Scott Guthrie.
Some of the products in Microsoft’s portfolio that it plans to offer to the African continent includes database services, business software and cloud computing services.
The decision by Microsoft to build data center facilities in Africa is evidence of the growing importance of Africa as a market for tech firms. Earlier in the year, Facebook entered into a partnership deal with a local telecom firms which saw a fiber optic cable measuring 500 miles installed in Uganda with a view to improving the internet connectivity of the East African nation.
Unlike in the case of traditional data centers which corporate entities typically make use of in order to run their information technology operations, firms like Amazon and Microsoft have data center clusters which are tethered with a view to ensuring that they operate as one unit or as one mega-facility. These firms have a couple of these huge data center regions offering cloud services to clients and thus making it unnecessary for corporations to run their own private centers as it cheaper and more reliable to outsource.
Currently even though organizations in Africa have access to cloud-based services, such services are usually offered from data centers that are located outside the African continent. This potentially presents a problem of making the services slower as well as increasing the risk of these services going offline. The Redmond, Washington-based software giant is also counting on bagging the customers who are prohibited by regulations from storing data outside the borders of their country.
Microsoft is not the first U.S.-based tech company to build a data center in Africa though. In 2016 IBM announced that it had entered a partnership with wireless carrier Vodacom and an IT firm to build a data center that would be located in Johannesburg.