Microsoft has just unveiled a groundbreaking initiative in Australia, marking its most substantial investment in the nation's digital infrastructure in four decades. The company is committed to supporting Australia's transition into the artificial intelligence (AI) era, boosting economic competitiveness, creating high-value jobs, and enhancing cybersecurity. Here's a summary of the key points from Microsoft's announcement:
Massive Investment in Digital Infrastructure: Microsoft is injecting a staggering A$5 billion into expanding its hyperscale cloud computing and AI infrastructure in Australia over the next two years. This substantial investment is set to increase Microsoft's computing capacity by about 250%. With an expanded local datacentre footprint that will now encompass 29 sites in Canberra, Melbourne, and Sydney, Microsoft is gearing up to meet the surging demand for cloud computing services in the country.
AI Opportunity: This investment will enable Australia to harness the potential of the latest AI technology, as highlighted by a report from the Tech Council of Australia and Microsoft. The report suggests that if generative AI adoption accelerates, it could contribute as much as A$115 billion a year to Australia's economy by 2030.
Sustainability Focus: In tandem with this digital expansion, Microsoft is committing to sustainable practices. The new data centres will be designed to align with Microsoft's sustainability goals, including being carbon negative, water positive, and zero waste by 2030. This entails using low-carbon materials, renewable energy sources, advanced water-cooling features, and measures to reduce diesel fuel usage during operation.
Skilling Initiatives: Microsoft aims to empower more than 300,000 Australians to thrive in a cloud and AI-driven economy. The company is extending its global skills programs, which provide access to learning resources, certifications, and job-seeking tools. Additionally, a Microsoft Datacentre Academy is planned to launch in Australia in early 2024, in partnership with TAFE NSW, focusing on core operational roles in the data center sector.
Cybersecurity Collaboration: Microsoft is partnering with the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) on the Microsoft-Australian Signals Directorate Cyber Shield (MACS) initiative. This collaboration aims to enhance protection from cyber threats for Australian residents, businesses, and government entities. It will involve building next-generation cybersecurity solutions to counter the growing frequency and severity of cyber threats.
The announcement coincided with a state visit to the United States by Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, where he was joined by Microsoft Vice Chair and President Brad Smith, and Microsoft Australia and New Zealand Managing Director Steven Worrall. Microsoft's investment in Australia demonstrates a shared commitment to strengthening the nation's digital infrastructure, boosting its AI capabilities, and safeguarding against cyber threats.