Microsoft's Australian investment excites industry

Wednesday, 25 October, 2023

Microsoft's Australian investment excites industry

Microsoft’s planned investment in Australian digital infrastructure, skilling and cybersecurity has been hailed as a welcome move by industry.

The company’s announcement this week said that Australia would benefit from its $5 billion expansion in hyperscale cloud computing and AI infrastructure over the next two years, while its own data centre footprint climbs from 20 to 29 sites across Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney.

A new Microsoft Datacentre Academy is also in the works, via an alliance with TAFE NSW, in the hope of reskilling Australians toward jobs needed in a cloud- and AI-enabled economy. The academy’s curriculum will align with core operational roles, including those of data centre technicians, critical environment specialists, inventory and asset management professionals, and IT operations personnel. The intent is to faciltate the Australian Government’s target of filling 1.2 million tech-related jobs across the country by 2030.

Mantel Group’s John Kaleski said the industy can only benefit from reskilling.

“We have an undersupply of technology consultants in the Australian marketplace. Microsoft’s plan to provide an extra 300,000 places under its global skills program will ultimately help organisations innovate in the cloud- and AI-enabled digital economy more efficiently with access to a larger pool of talent,” he said.

Kaleski is equally buoyed about the news of a collaboration with the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) to deliver the Microsoft-Australian Signals Directorate Cyber Shield (MACS), aimed at improving protection from cyber threats for Australian residents, businesses and government entities. As part of this partnership, Microsoft will work with ASD to build fit-for-purpose, next-generation cybersecurity solutions.

“We all know that cyber attacks pose a significant threat to Australian residents, businesses and governments,” Kaleski said.

“A Microsoft-Australian Signals Directorate Cyber Shield 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.”

Sumit Bansal, Vice President, APJ at BlueVoyant, echoed Kaleski’s thoughts.

“Organisations in Australia have recently been targeted by cybercriminals, with incidents making news headlines. These incidents should serve as a wake-up call,” Bansal said.

"I am excited to see Microsoft further investing in Australia, including to help boost protection from cyber threats. When it comes to cybersecurity, the best defence is making cybersecurity a team sport and working together to stop the latest threats,” he said.

Seizing the AI opportunity

The investment will increase Microsoft’s computing capacity by approximately 250% over the next two years. This will enable the company to meet the growing demand for cloud computing services, which are expected to almost double from $12.2 billion in 2022 to $22.4 billion in 2026, according to a white paper by International Data Corporation, commissioned by Microsoft.

The investment will also enable Australia to capitalise on the significant economic and productivity opportunities presented by the latest AI technology, which were highlighted in a recent report by the Tech Council of Australia and Microsoft. The report found that generative AI — if adopted at an accelerated pace — could contribute as much as $115 billion a year to Australia’s economy by 2030.

Microsoft will ensure that its new data centres in Australia help meet the company’s 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.

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