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Microsoft says new Israel cloud data center to start operations in early 2022

Timeframe has been pushed back from sometime this year; center will store data in public cloud within nation’s boundaries

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

An illustrative image of a Microsoft data center (Courtesy)
An illustrative image of a Microsoft data center (Courtesy)

US tech giant Microsoft said Tuesday it will open its regional data center in Israel at the beginning of next year, offering cloud services to Israeli customers starting with Azure and followed by a full range of services.

The company had originally said that the regional data center was expected to be operational in 2021, but that date has now been postponed to “early 2022.”

Services provided at a later stage, after Azure, will include Microsoft 365, Microsoft Dynamics and the Power Platform, which are the cloud solutions used internationally.

“Israel is a hotbed for digital innovation and entrepreneurship, and cloud technology is playing a pivotal role in new and exciting opportunities for local organizations and communities,” said Ronit Atad, general manager, Microsoft Israel, in a statement. “Behind every successful organizations resilience and growth is the need to enhance their own digital capability. Cloud computing is at the heart of that, with customers’ data one of their strongest assets in leading to acceleration of their business, and the Israeli economy.”

Ronit Atad, Microsoft Israel CEO (Guy Hecht)

The Israel data center region will be made up of multiple data center facilities with redundant power, cooling, and networking, the statement said. Azure Availability Zones, comprising a minimum of three zones, will allow customers to spread their infrastructure and applications across discrete and dispersed data centers ensuring that Azure customers have access to “highly resilient services” to support their workloads and processes, the statement said.

The company’s Israel data center would comply with security and privacy requirements for data storage in Israel and Europe, the company said.

Israeli customers are already using Microsoft cloud services through its other regional data centers. Now the nation will have a public Microsoft cloud of its own.

This will allow businesses, large or small, access to the advanced computing infrastructure and services, that will provide them with computing power, network services, databases, analytics technologies, artificial intelligence capabilities and IoT solutions – including low latency and storage requirements, while allowing the data to be secured and stored within the boundaries of Israel (data residency).

Separately, Microsoft is bidding to provide cloud services in a tender for a massive cloud-based regional data center in Israel that is being pitched to the tech industry’s biggest international companies. In March Hebrew press reports said the finalists in the bidding were Amazon and Google.

The US tech giant is also reportedly planning to invest $1 billion to $1.5 billion in Israel through its planned data center and expansion of its chip research and development activities.

An illustrative image of a Microsoft data center (Courtesy)

Microsoft in June 2019 said its first data center regions in the Middle East — in Abu Dhabi and Dubai — were online.

The new data center and Microsoft’s newly inaugurated campus in Herzliya, which extends over 46,000 square meters, were an indication of Israel’s “importance” to the US firm, the statement said.

The company opened its first local branch in 1989, and established its first R&D center in Israel, its first outside the US, in 1991. It currently operates an Israeli business branch, R&D center, venture capital fund and startup program.

The firm also works with universities, private and public entities with skilling programs in AI, cybersecurity, and data science, the statement said.

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