Microsoft began mulling a major expansion of its cloud business in China, with plans to add four new data centres by early 2022, Bloomberg reported.

The software giant announced in March it would add a new data centre in China’s Hebei province. It currently uses six data centres in eastern and northern regions operated by 21Vianet Group.

Microsoft advises customers to host workloads targeting Chinese customers on Azure China, due to “inevitable” network latency between nations due to unpredictable network connections.

Growing market
During the fourth quarter of 2020, China’s cloud infrastructure services market grew 62 per cent year-on-year to $5.8 billion, Canalys figures showed. The company stated this was record growth, attributing it to government investment, strong demand for digital transformation and rapid economic recovery.

Canalys placed China’s cloud infrastructure services market as the second-largest in the world after the US at that point. Analysts stated the top providers were Alibaba, Huawei, Tencent and Baidu, which held a combined 80 per cent market share.

Aside from the US, China is the only country with a cloud services market dominated by domestic providers. Microsoft and Amazon Web Services (AWS), the two largest global cloud providers, have moved carefully in China because of domestic regulations, working with local providers.