Arik Hesseldahl

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Amazon Brings Its Cloud to Japan

One hears an awful lot these days about Amazon’s Web Services. Large companies and start-ups rely upon it to varying degrees to replace infrastructure that would otherwise cost huge sums of money to purchase and operate. Several companies have gotten their start in part because they were able to forgo investing in severs and other IT infrastructure in favor of turning it all over to Amazon.

And yet for all its importance, within Amazon’s $34 billion in 2010 revenue, Amazon Web Services was small enough by revenue last year to fit within the “other” category, a $953 million amalgam of revenue that amounted to less than three percent of total sales.

That’s not to say it’s not growing. Weeks away from its fifth anniversary, the company said today it has added a fifth region to its growing network of data centers: Japan. That means companies in Japan and with customers in Japan can take advantage of Amazon’s cloud infrastructure. The company said it is also offering support in Japanese.

That’s not to say that Japanese companies haven’t been using Amazon’s cloud services. But having a data center physically located in Japan helps solve two problems. First, it reduces latency. Basically users in Japan will have a better experience when the application they’re running is close by, and not in Singapore or the U.S.

Second, companies handling data that for legal or other reasons can’t leave Japan’s borders can now take advantage of the lower costs that come from using the cloud.

An early customer is Mitsui, a Japanese conglomerate, which says it’s using AWS to test new SAP enterprise software. Zynga, the social gaming outfit that arguably might not exist were it not for Amazon Web Services, has been using it too. As it happens, Zynga launched a localized version of FarmVille in Japan late last year.