Microsoft Pledges £700m Of Cloud For ‘Public Good’

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Microsoft will aid up to 70,000 non-profit organisations and researchers with three-year Azure public cloud effort as part of Nadella’s Microsoft Philanthropies strategy

Microsoft is pledging $1 billion-worth (£700m) of its public cloud services to organisations working for the “public good” over the next three years.

The money will go towards up to 70,000 non-profit organisations and university researchers to further Microsoft’s mission of “empowering every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more”.

“Cloud computing has emerged as a vital resource for addressing the world’s problems,” wrote Brad Smith, Microsoft’s chief legal officer, in a blog post.

Vital

“It is vital that the cloud serve the public good in the broadest sense. While the marketplace is reaching a rapidly growing number of customers around the world, it is not yet benefitting everyone. If we’re going to realize Microsoft’s mission of empowering every person and organization on the planet to achieve more, we need to reach those that the market is not yet reaching.”

microsoftMicrosoft said its wants to reinvent its corporate philanthropy over the next ten years, under the help of mobile first, cloud first leader Satya Nadella. Extensive efforts, according to Microsoft, are required on a global basis to bring the world together in public-private partnerships.

The pledge will basically consist of free access to Microsoft’s Azure public cloud computing platform, which researchers and organisations can use to power their academic and philanthropic efforts. The money will also aim to aid reaching new communities with “last-mile” internet connectivity.

“This also reflects a cross-company commitment to help respond to the question Satya raised: How can we make sure the cloud truly serves the public good? Today is a step on that journey,” wrote Smith.

Naturally, philanthropic efforts from big businesses are not without their cynics. Over the next three years, organisations on the receiving end of this cloud aid will entrenched into Microsoft’s cloud ecosystem, generating future business for Microsoft.

microsoftBut boss Satya Nadella, who is this week present at the World Economic Forum in Davos, argued a strong case.

In a separate blog post, he wrote: “Among the questions being asked in Davos are these: If cloud computing is one of the most important transformations of our time, how do we ensure that its benefits are universally accessible? What if only wealthy societies have access to the data, intelligence, analytics and insights that come from the power of mobile and cloud computing?”

Nadella have examples of using cloud for good in healthcare in his home country of India, and using the power of cloud to aid disaster relief workers following the devastating earthquake in Nepal last April.

“Philanthropy is a start, but to truly harness the public cloud for public good, businesses, governments and NGOs must come together with a shared vision and relentless passion to improve the human condition and drive new growth equally,” Nadella wrote.

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