Microsoft to spend A$5 billion ($3.2 billion) to expand AI and cloud capabilities in Australia, to help bolster skills and cyber security
Microsoft is to make its largest investment in Microsoft’s 40-year history in Australia, in an effort to help increase that country’s digital skills, and cyber security capabilities.
The Australian government and Microsoft jointly announced that “Microsoft will make an additional A$5 billion ($3.2 billion) investment in Australia, helping our nation become a world-leading digital economy by significantly investing in skills and training to help equip a new generation of Australians for the jobs and opportunities of the future.”
It should be remembered that Australia is a member of the ‘five eyes’ intelligence sharing network.
Prior to that in January 2022, Australia had said it would ‘fight back’ against nation state cyberattacks, after signing an agreement with the United Kingdom over cyber, technology, and other matters.
The two countries vowed to step up their defence co-operation, and increase their collaboration on cyber and technology issues.
Now the Australian government has revealed that Microsoft is to heavily invest, helping Australia “become a world-leading digital economy by significantly investing in skills and training to help equip a new generation of Australians for the jobs and opportunities of the future.”
This Microsoft investment will enable expansion of its Australian cloud computing and artificial intelligence infrastructure over the next two years, said the Australian government. This will grow its local data centre footprint from 20 to 29 sites in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.
Microsoft said it would raise its computing capacity in Australia by 250 percent, enabling Australia to meet demand for cloud computing, which was expected to double from 2022 to 2026 as AI became more prevalent.
Data centre, cyber skills
In addition, a new Microsoft Data Centre Academy will open in 2024 in NSW (New South Wales) in partnership with TAFE NSW, focusing on building applied data centre skills.
“The academy will provide alternative employment pathways into Australia’s tech sector, with a focus on under-represented groups including women and Indigenous Australians,” said the Australian government. “The new data centres will use low-carbon materials during construction as well renewable energy.”
Microsoft has also apparently committed to support programs to train an additional 300,000 Australians through its global skills program. These programs are designed to help Australians gain the skills and capabilities to thrive in the digital economy.
Microsoft will also collaborate with the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) on the Microsoft-ASD Cyber Shield to harden Australia from cyber threats to individuals, businesses and governments.
The Microsoft-ASD Cyber Shield will improve joint capability to identify, prevent and respond to cyber threats, which are growing in both frequency and severity. The Aussie government said it will be one of the first steps that it is taking “as part of the 2023-2030 Cyber-Security Strategy, to become a world-leading cyber secure and resilient nation by 2030.”
“This is a major investment in the skills and workers of the future, which will help Australia to strengthen our position as a world-leading economy,” said Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
“A strong economy requires protection from cyber threats,” said Albanese. “I welcome Microsoft’s collaboration with the Australian Signals Directorate to enhance cybersecurity for households and business.”
“This investment in infrastructure, digital skills, and cyber security is our largest investment in Microsoft’s 40-year history in Australia and a testament to our commitment to the country’s growth and prosperity in the AI era,” tweeted Microsoft’s President Brad Smith.
“We’re coupling this A$5 billion in computing capacity and capabilities with AI and engineering that will strengthen the nation’s cyber defence, including a deeper collaboration with the Australian Signals Directorate,” Smith added.