Microsoft officials often cite the number of Azure regions the company has on its books. For a while, 54 has been the magic number, which includes some operational and some "planned" regions. Microsoft currently claims more global regions than any other cloud provider. But that number may be about to grow further with announcements possibly coming at its Build developer conference in Seattle next week.
Microsoft published a blog post on April 30 noting that it is closing its US Government Iowa region as of April 30, 2020. Microsoft is advising customers using that region to migrate their resources to an alternate region to avoid service disruption.
Microsoft officials didn't provide much in the way of reasons for the retirement, other than saying "we're continually optimizing our cloud datacenter infrastructure to be more efficient and cost-effective." Officials noted that Microsoft operates three additional government regions "all of which provide similar or enhanced capabilities to the US Gov Iowa region."
Microsoft also may be gearing up to announce details on some new Azure regions opening in the coming months/years -- possibly during its upcoming Build developer conference the week of May 6.
Last week, I got a tip from Bjorn Andersson (@diversetips on Twitter) about listings in a Microsoft document for some potential new Azure regions. He pointed to listings for Sweden "Central" and "South," as well as a new West US3 region. (Currently, Microsoft offers West US, West US2 and West Central US regions.)
I asked Microsoft officials if these listings were reflective of plans for more Azure regions/datacenters and received this statement from a spokesperson:
"We intend to develop world-class, environmentally responsible datacenter locations in Sweden. Our plans are still early in development and we look forward to sharing more in the future."
The spokesperson didn't respond to my question about a West US3 region. Microsoft removed the references that Andersson spotted since he showed me late last week, but they are still listed here.
The Swedish press noted earlier this year that Microsoft had acquired land in Sweden and planned to use it for more datacenters.
A region, as Microsoft explains on its Azure site, "is a set of datacenters deployed within a latency-defined perimeter and connected through a dedicated regional low-latency network." Being able to offer customers datacenters in their preferred region is a competitive advantage in terms of performance and data sovereignty.