Microsoft has announced plans to establish its first data center cloud region in Taiwan, marking its largest investment yet in the country.

No dates were mentioned, but it is understood that the new region will launch with multiple Availability Zones, which for Microsoft represents standalone data centers with independent power, network, and cooling for additional tolerance to failures.

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– Thinkstock / azon1

Alternative Asian base?

As tensions grow between the US and China, tech giants appear to be investing in Taiwan as an alternative base. Microsoft's plans to make it a key hub in Asia follow Google, which increased its investment there, announcing plans for a third data center in September. Taiwan is an island nation 100 miles from China, which disputes its independence.

In a report on Nikkei Asia, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen called Microsoft’s investment a mark of deeper collaboration between the US and Taiwan. She said: “Taiwan has an irreplaceable edge in terms of high-end hardware manufacturing, and we are a reliable, safe partner for the US and other advanced countries. Microsoft's investment is key for us to enhance our collaboration with the international community and with the US.”

“Technology has a critical role to play in supporting economic recovery and opportunity everywhere. Microsoft is committed to fostering local innovation to support digital transformation across the public and private sectors in Taiwan,” said Jean-Phillippe Courtois, the EVP and President of Microsoft Global Sales, Marketing and Operations.

“Our new investment in Taiwan reflects our faith in its strong heritage of hardware and software integration. With Taiwan’s expertise in hardware manufacturing and the new datacenter region, we look forward to greater transformation, advancing what is possible with 5G, AI and IoT capabilities spanning the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge.”

This move is part of Microsoft “Reimagine Taiwan” initiative, and will see Microsoft grow its Taiwan Azure Hardware Systems and Infrastructure engineering group, establishing Microsoft Taiwan as a hub in Asia to design and build advanced cloud software and hardware infrastructure around AI, IoT and edge solutions.

In the same announcement, Microsoft also revealed that it will make a significant investment in local talent and development with the goal to provide digital skilling for over 200,000 people in Taiwan by 2024.

In the Asia Pacific, Microsoft currently has data centers in Singapore, Australia, China, India, Japan, and Korea. Aside from Taiwan, Azure cloud regions are also planned for New Zealand and Hong Kong.