Azure in China: A New Frontier for Microsoft?

Azure has made history in being the first Western public cloud provider to enter into the Chinese market. General availability of the Azure services is now available for anyone in China to use. Microsoft’s Chinese partner 21Vianet is facilitating the Azure experience.  Azure had actually been in China for well over 9 months. The popular cloud service was in preview mode until yesterday when the shift from preview mode to being a full-fledged live product was completed.

What does this mean for Microsoft?

Out of all of the major companies who have significant public cloud services, Microsoft is best positioned to deal with the nuances of the Chinese market. IBM and Amazon are also trying to break into this emerging market but Microsoft has the best chance to capitalize on the public cloud because of the company’s existing relationship with vendors in the area. Companies such as Google, who have clashed with the Chinese government in regards to search engine results filtering, may have difficultly breaking into this market due to strained relations and lack of existing vendor relationships. Microsoft’s timing for this announcement couldn’t be any better from a strategic business standpoint.

Microsoft stock quote has been on the uptick. While most American technology stocks have reported a rise, Microsoft has gained over 40% in the past 12 months. When you couple this news alongside the news of Satya Nadella becoming the CEO and Microsoft’s insistence on expanding its cloud all over the world, it seems as if Azure is becoming the public cloud platform to beat. AWS has a presence in China however the service is still in a testing phase. Many analysts feel as if China is on cusp of cloud services explosion. This could cause Microsoft Azure to become the premier cloud service in the Chinese market. Virtualization is just now reaching maturity inside of China and now that IT gurus have access to a major public cloud platform such as Azure, you can expect to see significant cloud innovation coming from the Far East.