Artificial Intelligence: Microsoft Commits $5B To Assist Australia With AI And Cybersecurity
“We’re coupling this A$5 billion in computing capacity and capabilities with AI and engineering that will strengthen the nation’s cyber defence.” – Brad Smith, Microsoft Vice Chair and President
Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) monumental announcement on October 24, 2023, revealed the company’s A$5 billion investment in Australia’s digital infrastructure, marking the largest investment in the country by the tech giant in its four-decade history. The focus of this investment is on expanding hyperscale cloud computing and AI infrastructure, with the aim of strengthening Australia’s economic competitiveness, creating high-value job opportunities, and enhancing cybersecurity.
This commitment will see an increase in Microsoft’s local datacenter sites from 20 to 29, spanning across Canberra, Melbourne, and Sydney. Additionally, Microsoft is collaborating with TAFE NSW to establish a Microsoft Datacentre Academy in Australia, ensuring the workforce is equipped with the necessary skills for the cloud and AI-driven economy. Its global skills programs will benefit over 300,000 Australians. (Microsoft)
The company’s partnership with the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) introduces the Microsoft-Australian Signals Directorate Cyber Shield (MACS), focusing on improving cybersecurity to protect Australian residents, businesses, and government entities from the escalating threat of cyberattacks.
Microsoft’s investment will boost computing capacity by approximately 250%, facilitating the growing demand for cloud computing services, which are projected to nearly double from A$12.2 billion in 2022 to A$22.4 billion in 2026. Furthermore, it will enable Australia to leverage the economic opportunities presented by AI technology, potentially contributing A$115 billion to the economy by 2030.
In line with its sustainability goals, Microsoft will ensure that the company’s new data centers in Australia adhere to carbon-negative, water-positive, and zero-waste standards by 2030.
Notably, Microsoft’s commitment to skilling investments aims to support an additional 300,000 Australians in the digital economy, and the company is set to launch the first Datacentre Academy in Australia in early 2024. This aligns with the shared goal of filling 1.2 million tech-related jobs across Australia by 2030, in collaboration with the Australian Government.
The Microsoft-ASD Cyber Shield (MACS) initiative strengthens the partnership between Microsoft and the Australian Government, focusing on cyber threat information exchange to enhance cyber defenses, which are vital due to the rising frequency and severity of cyber threats in the country.
The MACS project will also emphasize national threat intelligence sharing capabilities, particularly in the detection, analysis, and defense against sophisticated nation-state cyber threats. The urgency is evident in the significant increase in cybercrime reports, with more than 76,000 received in the 2021–22 financial year, averaging to one report every 7 minutes.
According to Kate Pounder, CEO, Tech Council of Australia, Microsoft and other hyperscale cloud providers play a crucial role in Australia’s technology sector. They reduce the obstacles that startups face when entering the industry, nurture the growth of talent, enable emerging companies to compete internationally, and offer the same level of innovation and security as the largest corporations.
Related Story: KPMG And Microsoft Ink $12B Multi-Year Cloud And AI Alliance
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