Microsoft exec: Our cloud is bigger

September 23, 2015, 6:45 PM UTC
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella delivers a keynote address during the Microsoft Build developer conference.
Photograph by Justin Sullivan — Getty Images

There is broad agreement that there are three hyperscale public cloud providers in the universe. Amazon, Microsoft, and Google field hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of servers in aggregate. Increasingly, business customers use these shared resources to run applications and store data rather than expanding or building new data centers of their own.

Amazon Web Services is acknowledged to be the biggest of the top three but that doesn’t mean others don’t state their own cases for why their cloud is biggest and/or best. Last week, for example, Mike Schutz, general manager of cloud platform marketing for Microsoft (MSFT) Azure told attendees of a Deutsche Bank conference that Microsoft has better regional coverage than its two giant rivals.

“We operate in about 19 regions which means we have 19 data center regions globally…that’s about twice as many as AWS and about five or six times that of Google (GOOG) Cloud Platform,” he noted, according to a transcript. Then he doubled down on that, saying that Microsoft by itself is in more regions than AWS and Google combined.

Hmm, maybe. But then again there are regions and then there are regions and they are defined differently. AWS claims 11 cloud regions worldwide, but these are typically data center farms running multiple isolated availability zones (AZs). If a company’s application is designed so that instances run in different zones, if there is a problem in one zone, the application can keep running. Amazon (AMZN) runs 30 AZs across its regions.

The Google Cloud Platform claims 10 availability zones across three regions.

Microsoft does not use the concept of availability zones but its placement of data centers in more regions closer to end user populations means that latency is minimized, a spokesperson said.

The need to curb latency, or delays in delivering data or conducting operations, is the reason there is a global rush among cloud providers to put facilities in all major geographic areas.

For more on Microsoft’s cloud plans, see the video below.

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