Microsoft announced major digital infrastructure, skilling and cybersecurity investments in Australia to help the nation seize the artificial intelligence (AI) era to strengthen its economic competitiveness, create high-value jobs and protect the nation from the increasing threat of cyberattacks.
Microsoft will invest A$5 billion in expanding its hyperscale cloud computing and AI infrastructure in Australia over the next two years, the single largest investment in its forty-year history in the country. This investment will also grow Microsoft’s local datacentre footprint from 20 sites to a total of 29 spread across Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney.
Microsoft will support 300,000 Australians through global skills programmes to boost digital economy readiness. It plans to establish the first Datacentre Academy in Australia in early 2024, partnering with TAFE NSW. This aligns with the goal of filling 1.2 million tech-related jobs in Australia by 2030.
In addition, Microsoft will collaborate with the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) on an initiative called 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.
Microsoft’s A$5 billion digital infrastructure investment will increase Australia’s computing capacity by approximately 250 per cent 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 A$12.2 billion in 2022 to A$22.4 billion in 2026, according to a whitepaper 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 A$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.