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The skyline of Abu Dhabi, UAE. (Pixabay Photo / cc0)

Microsoft announced plans for its first cloud data centers in the Middle East Wednesday, hoping to bring capacity online in that region in the near future.

There will be two separate Middle East regions in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and Microsoft also plans to introduce a new data center in Switzerland while expanding its presence in Germany and France, according to a company representative. French customers can start using Azure and Microsoft Office 365 out of that region as of Wednesday, while support for Dynamics 365 in that region will follow early next year.

Microsoft will follow Amazon Web Services in committing to a data center presence in the Middle East. AWS announced plans for a Bahrain data center last year, which it expects to bring online early next year. Google has yet to tackle the Middle East, which has a relatively small market for cloud computing services at the moment but it is expected to grow at a 27 percent clip over the next few years.

A map of Microsoft Cloud data centers as of March 2018, prior to today’s announcement of new regions in the Middle East and Europe. (Microsoft Image)

Location matters quite a bit in modern cloud computing, especially with the advent of real-time applications. As fast as the network connections are between modern cloud data centers, customers will see much better performance from regions close to their customers or employees.

That’s part of what is fueling interest in edge computing, and that interest is accelerating as businesses and individuals around the world roll out connected devices in places you would have never expected to need an internet connection. That movement is just getting going within the mature tech economies of the world, and probably will take some time to reach emerging tech economies, but we might see emerging economics adopt new technologies more quickly than their counterparts in the U.S. or Europe simply because they don’t have any legacy baggage to overcome.

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