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Microsoft Corp, the US software giant, announced on Thursday that for the first time in China it will provide public cloud services.
The company is working with the Chinese data center services provider 21Vianet Group Inc to offer public cloud services to the Shanghai government, through a new data center which will operate Microsoft cloud services being set up in the city.
The company also said that it had signed an agreement to provide Shanghai municipality with Office and Windows public cloud services, through a service provided by 21Vianet.
Cloud services, which enable individuals or companies to store and access data and applications remotely, are becoming increasingly popular, and Microsoft said it hoped through the agreement to provide services to millions of Chinese businesses.
The partnership, it said, would enable Chinese customers to access two cloud computing software services - Microsoft's Office 365 and Windows Azure, directly and legally.
The data center and the cloud services will be operated by 21Vianet, and will provide Chinese customers the same features found anywhere in the world, including cloud e-mail and calendars, instant messaging, conferencing and file sharing.
The 21Vianet Windows Azure service will provide customers with cloud computing platform services including computing, storage, database, integration and networking services.
According to the memorandum of understanding signed with the Shanghai government, 21Vianet will build an Internet data center in the city to provide Microsoft cloud services.
"Shanghai was selected as the first city in China to demonstrate and test cloud computing in 2010, and now it is considering its next three-year cloud computing plan," said Dai Haibo, chairman of the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Economy and Informatization.
He said the cooperation between the local government and Microsoft took nearly a year to negotiate. "It's a milestone for Microsoft's cloud business in China, and the Shanghai government's adoption of legal software."
Chen Sheng, chairman and chief executive of 21Vianet, told China Daily: "Previously people could only access those Microsoft services by linking to overseas data centers. Now China will have its own."
Chen also said that after Shanghai, the company will expand its cooperation with Microsoft to other cities in China next year.
However, Microsoft emphasized in a statement that any Chinese customers who prefer to use services managed and delivered by Microsoft can still use its data center infrastructure in other countries in the Asia Pacific region.
A recent report by the US-based IT research company International Data Corp predicted that cloud computing will create 4 million jobs in China by 2015.
(China Daily 11/02/2012 page17)