Microsoft plans to add data centers in the United Kingdom to the company’s growing cloud-computing infrastructure, a few days after Amazon.com announced a similar move.
Amazon has a large lead in the business of selling Web-accessed processing power and data storage, but Microsoft has been spending billions to build out its own business.
The company said it has spent more than $2 billion in Europe on cloud-computing infrastructure and services over a 10-year period, an amount that includes newly completed expansion of existing data centers in Ireland and the Netherlands.
The company also has data centers in the U.S., Brazil, India, Singapore, Australia, Japan and Hong Kong (Microsoft’s data centers in mainland China are operated by a Chinese Web infrastructure company).
Data centres located in-country can help woo governments or heavily regulated businesses like banks or insurance companies that might be worried about the security and regulatory or other hurdles of stashing sensitive data abroad.
In a release announcing the new data center, Michel Van der Bel, the general manager of Microsoft’s U.K. unit, touted the potential opportunity for financial and public sector firms.
Services from the U.K. data centers will be available for business customers in late 2016, Microsoft said. Facilities in Canada are also scheduled to open next year.
The company says it considers 35 criteria when weighing the location of data centers, including proximity to customers, reliable power and Internet connectivity, skilled labor, and electricity costs.