Microsoft will donate $1 billion to support research and expand cloud services
Last month, Microsoft Corporation announced a new initiative to ensure that Microsoft’s cloud computing resources serve the public good. As part of this initiative the recently formed Microsoft Philanthropies will donate $1 billion of Microsoft Cloud Services to serve nonprofits and university researchers over the next three years.
According to Microsoft, cloud computing has emerged as a vital resource for using data in ways that create new insights and lead to breakthroughs in science and technology, and predicts that it will be essential to unlocking solutions to some of the world’s most important problems as well as meeting the sustainable development goals agreed to by world leaders in September 2015.
Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith explained that most of the $1 billion would be used to provide free or discounted cloud services to nonprofit groups worldwide. Those services include Microsoft’s Azure computing power and data storage which allows organizations to host their own websites and applications in Microsoft’s data centers, Office 365 internet-based corporate programs and other products. The company will also seek to expand access to its Azure for Research Program, which provides free access to the cloud computing platform to universities.
“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?,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wrote in a blog post.
The U.S. tech giant has been trying to expand its cloud computing services. The company said it aims to reach 70,000 nonprofits worldwide through the program. Additionally, it said the increase in the use of Azure at universities will represent a 50 percent expansion of the existing program that already covers 600 institutions.
Other elements of the recently formed Microsoft Philanthropies include:
- Expanding access to cloud resources for faculty research in universities – Microsoft Research and Microsoft Philanthropies will expand by 50 percent the Microsoft Azure for Research program that grants free Azure storage and computing resources to help faculty accelerate their research on cutting-edge challenges.
- Reaching new communities with last-mile connectivity and cloud services – Microsoft Philanthropies and Microsoft Business Development will combine donated access to Microsoft Cloud services with investments in new, low-cost last-mile Internet access technologies and community training. By combining cloud services with connectivity and training, and focusing on new public-private partnerships, Microsoft Philanthropies intends to support 20 of these projects in at least 15 countries around the world by the middle of 2017.
Microsoft has been giving away traditional software for years, and the value of those software donations is estimated at about $750 million a year. Cloud services provide computing power, back-end software and applications over the internet to consumers and businesses, giving them a viable alternative to buying and managing computers and software themselves.