Microsoft calls in the cavalry to push Azure worldwide (and counter AWS)

Microsoft(s msft) is ripping a page out of its own playbook with the launch of what it calls the, “Cloud OS” network of some 30 partners — cloud providers, telcos, hosting companies — that will run data centers that will work smoothly with Microsoft’s public Azure cloud.

The deal is that these partners will be running Windows Server 2012 R2, Systems Center 2012 R2 and Windows Azure Pack — a configuration that mirrors the Windows Azure that Microsoft runs in its own data centers. Participants include, T-Systems, Fujitsu, iWeb, Dimension Data, CSC, and Capgemini.

Microsoft built its franchise with a large network of reseller, ISV, hosting and other partner types and often calls up that army to fend off rivals. The keynote plea COO Kevin Turner made to attendees of the Microsoft Partner Conference to beat back Google(s goog) incursions a few years back had to be heard to believed. Now, the company is back to the well again.

Cloud OS Network may look good on paper. What company doesn’t need is allies — especially as it faces off against Amazon(s amzn) Web Services buzz saw? In aggregate, these companies field 425 data centers serving 3 million customers worldwide, according to Takeshi Numoto, Microsoft corporate VP for cloud and enterprise marketing. ┬áThat’s a lot of capacity and reach. But then again, none of these network companies are exclusively committed to Microsoft and many were already Microsoft partners. So, this looks a bit like repackaging existing relationships.

But with concerns of data sovereignty top of mind since NSA gate, it behooves Microsoft (and other American IT companies) to recruit companies outside the U.S. to keep local data local. HP(s hpq) yesterday announced a similar alliance with ARSYS of Spain and SFR of France.

Numoto said these partner facilities will enable customers to run hybrid clouds — keeping some capabilities outside the public cloud but able to burst some workloads out to Azure as needed and characterized that as “a real differentiator” compared to Amazon.