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Sky High, Amazon Opens First Computer Cloud Office in Greece

Αssociated Press

FILE - In this Oct. 23, 2018, file photo, an Amazon logo is seen atop the Amazon Treasure Truck The Park DTLA office complex in downtown Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

ATHENS - Following Microsoft’s plans for a near $1 billion investment, building three data centers in Greece as part of a cloud service, Amazon’s cloud computing division has opened its own in the capital.

It was done, the company said, because so many more companies and public sector agencies need those backup services for data storage in a country where the Internet can be spotty, the site Nomadnotmad ranking it last in the European Uinon.

Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis had been reaching out for more Foreign Direct Investment after companies were reluctant during the 4 ½ year reign of the former ruling anti-business Radical Left SYRIZA.

That took a detour when the COVID-19 pandemic struck early in 2020 but even during the health crisis there has been interest by foreign companies to take a stake in Greece’s recovery and be positioned for a comeback. 

The move by Amazon Web Services (AWS) was hailed by Przemek Szuder,  head of that division in central and eastern Europe, said the news agency Reuters.

“We have seen increased customer adoption of AWS in the country and decided to open an office in Athens to better support new customers,” he said but no financial details were given.

AWS already provides cloud computing services to companies and organisations in Greece including telecoms group Wind Hellas, PAOK one of Greece’s top soccer teams and many public sector organizations, the group said.

AWS said services covered areas from big data analytics and mobile, web and social media applications to enterprise business applications and the Internet of Things (IOT) with the advent of 5G technology.

In October, 2019, when Microsoft Corp announced plans to build a data centre hub in Greece, Mitsotakis said the country could become a world cloud computing hub as his government wanted to attract digital nomads who could work anywhere, the pandemic curiously bringing a model for remote working.

At that time, he appeared with Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith at the Acropolis Museum to reveal the plan that came after nine months of negotiations, said Kathimerini, the agreement also including digital skills training programs for 100,000 government workers, educators and students.

“This significant investment is a reflection of our confidence in the Greek economy, in the Greek people and the Greek government,” Smith said at a ceremony.

Microsoft currently has data centers in 26 countries, including seven in the European Union. The company based in Redmond, Washington, is already working with the Greek government on an augmented reality project on Ancient Olympia, birthplace of the Olympic games.

The origins of the idea for the investment can be traced to a meeting between Mitsotakis and Smith at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last January, after which Smith had commented that it was one of the most important meetings he had in Davos.

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)