Sydney, Oct 24: Microsoft is set to invest A$5 billion in expanding its hyper-scale cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI) infrastructure in Australia over the next two years, marking the largest investment in the company’s four-decade history in the country.
This substantial investment will not only increase Microsoft’s computing capacity by around 250 percent but also expand its local data center network from 20 sites to 29, spread across Canberra, Melbourne, and Sydney.
In collaboration with TAFE NSW, Microsoft is actively working on establishing a Microsoft Datacenter Academy in Australia, in addition to extending its global skills programs to support over 300,000 Australians in gaining the necessary skills for success in a cloud- and AI-driven economy.
Furthermore, Microsoft is joining forces with the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) on the Microsoft-Australian Signals Directorate Cyber Shield (MACS) initiative. This collaboration is aimed at enhancing cybersecurity protection for Australian residents, businesses, and government entities through the development of purpose-built, next-generation cybersecurity solutions.
The announcement of these investments coincides with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s state visit to the United States.
This monumental investment by Microsoft is expected to meet the growing demand for cloud computing services, which is projected to nearly double from A$12.2 billion in 2022 to A$22.4 billion in 2026.
AI technology, a significant focus of this investment, is predicted to contribute up to A$115 billion annually to Australia’s economy by 2030 if rapidly adopted, according to a report by the Tech Council of Australia and Microsoft.
Microsoft is committed to ensuring that its new data centers in Australia align with its sustainability goals of becoming carbon-negative, water-positive, and zero-waste by 2030.
This includes the use of low-carbon materials during construction, renewable energy, advanced water-cooling features, and measures to reduce diesel fuel consumption during operation.
As part of this comprehensive initiative, Microsoft will provide support for an additional 300,000 Australians through its global skills programs, with the goal of helping individuals acquire the skills needed to excel in the digital economy.
The company is also preparing to launch its inaugural Datacentre Academy in Australia in early 2024, in partnership with TAFE NSW, with a curriculum designed to prepare individuals for various core operational roles within data centers.
The cybersecurity component of the investment, the Microsoft-ASD Cyber Shield (MACS), builds upon the established partnership between Microsoft and the Australian Government, focused on sharing cyber threat information to enhance protection for Australian citizens, businesses, and government entities. The collaboration will improve the government’s and Microsoft’s collective ability to identify, prevent, and respond to the increasing frequency and severity of cyber threats.
The magnitude of the cyber threat issue is underscored by the fact that the Australian Signals Directorate’s national Cyber Watch Office received over 76,000 cybercrime reports during the 2021–22 financial year, marking a nearly 13 per cent increase from the previous year.
This translates to one report every seven minutes.
MACS will revamp national threat intelligence sharing capabilities, prioritizing the detection, analysis, and defense against sophisticated nation-state cyber threats.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese emphasized the significance of this investment, recognizing its role in enhancing Australia’s position as a world-leading economy, equipping the workforce with skills for future job success, and strengthening the nation’s cybersecurity defenses.
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