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Microsoft is investing A$5bn in Australia over the next two years to expand its cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) infrastructure, alongside plans to bolster skills training and cyber security in the country.
The investment, the largest Microsoft has made in Australia to date, would enable it to expand its datacentre footprint from 20 to 29 sites spread across Canberra, Melbourne, and Sydney.
This will increase Microsoft’s computing capacity in Australia by about 250% to meet the growing demand for cloud computing services, which are expected to almost double from A$12.2bn in 2022 to A$22.4bn in 2026, according to IDC research commissioned by Microsoft.
AI workloads will also benefit from the infrastructure investments. A recent report by the Tech Council of Australia and Microsoft found that generative AI, if adopted at an accelerated pace, could contribute as much as A$115bn a year to Australia’s economy by 2030.
Microsoft said it will ensure its new datacentres in Australia meet its sustainability goals of being carbon negative, water positive and zero waste by 2030. This includes using low-carbon materials during construction, as well as using renewable energy, advanced water-cooling features and measures to decrease diesel fuel use during operation.
It will also work with vocational training provider TAFE New South Wales to establish a Microsoft Datacentre Academy in Australia. At the same time, it will extend its global skills programmes to help more than 300,000 Australians gain digital skills to thrive in a cloud and AI-enabled economy.
John Kaleski, cloud partner at Mantel Group, noted that with the shortage of technology consultants in Australia, Microsoft's skills training programme will provide organisations with access to a larger pool of talent.
In addition, Microsoft will collaborate with the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) on an initiative dubbed Microsoft-Australian Signals Directorate Cyber Shield (MACS), with a focus on detecting, analysing, and defending against sophisticated nation-state attacks. Microsoft will also work with ASD to build fit-for-purpose, next-generation cyber security solutions.
Sumit Bansal, vice-president of BlueVoyant in Asia-Pacific and Japan, welcomed Microsoft’s investments in Australia, including the efforts to help boost protection from cyber threats at a time when organisations in Australia increasingly being targeted by cyber criminals.
Kaleski said the MACS will assist to reduce the incidence of successful cyber attacks. “Sharing best practice to build cyber resilience and developing ways to appropriately identify, prevent and respond to cyber attacks will collectively help all Australians,” he added.
Read more about cloud and AI in Australia
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- The Australian government is experimenting with AI use cases in a safe environment while it figures out ways to harness the technology to benefit citizens and businesses.
- Culture Amp is building a generative AI capability that summarises employee survey responses, automating a process that typically takes HR admins up to hundreds of hours to complete.
- Iconic footwear company Blundstone has migrated its legacy ERP system to Dynamics 365 to support the demands of its growing business.