Microsoft is continuing to expand its data centre regions, with the company announcing plans to add New Zealand to an already impressive roster of regions.
Azure customers have access to 60 regions worldwide, which Microsoft notes is more than any other cloud provider, making the service available in 140 countries around the world. With the development of this new data centre region, Microsoft aims to fuel new growth that will accelerate digital transformation opportunities across New Zealand. The company will also continue its investments in new solutions that support both New Zealand and Microsoft’s sustainability goals. In addition, Microsoft will add support for educational skilling programs to increase future employability opportunities for the people of New Zealand.
“This significant investment in New Zealand’s digital infrastructure is a testament to the remarkable spirit of New Zealand’s innovation and reflects how we’re pushing the boundaries of what is possible as a nation,” said Vanessa Sorenson, general manager, Microsoft New Zealand.
“The Fletcher School’s Digital Evolution Index characterises New Zealand as a ‘standout nation’ demonstrating to the world what the future might look like. I’m confident this investment will help accelerate our digital evolution.”
Accelerating digital transformation in New Zealand
Through the development of the new region, public– and private–sector entities, large enterprises, and small and medium-size businesses will be able to use scalable, highly available and resilient public cloud services, while also helping companies meet their data residency, security and compliance needs.
Customers will have access to Microsoft’s cloud services, including:
- Microsoft Azure – an ever-expanding set of cloud services that offers computing, networking, databases, analytics, AI and Internet of Things (IoT) services.
- Microsoft 365 – the world’s productivity cloud, featuring best-of-breed productivity apps delivered as part of an open platform for business processes with email, collaboration, conferencing, enterprise social networking and business intelligence.
- Dynamics 365 and Power Platform – intelligent business applications that enable organisations to grow, evolve and transform to meet the needs of customers and capture new opportunities.
While this new region will deliver local access to cloud services, New Zealand customers and partners are already benefiting from Microsoft’s global scale cloud services, according to the company’s customers.
Fonterra is a New Zealand dairy co-operative, which exports products to over 140 countries. Piers Shore, CIO, Fonterra said, “To meet our strategic goals, which are enabled by efficiency, innovation and sustainability, we look to build strong partnerships with great companies to drive enhanced productivity across the business. Microsoft is one of our key partners in helping us deliver our digital transformation. This is an exciting announcement — it will bring even more cutting-edge technology to our co-operative and the New Zealand technology ecosystem. This in turn will help us leverage technology to create value for our farmer owners and unit holders, and Fonterra customers around the world.”
Spark NZ, a digital services organisation and Microsoft cloud customer, enables its customers to quickly and securely innovate and scale operations. “Spark, New Zealand’s largest telecommunications and technology solutions provider, is delighted to partner with Microsoft to empower innovation — two organisations focused on building cloud and digital capability to help New Zealand businesses succeed,” said Jolie Hodson, chief executive, Spark.
Continued commitment to sustainability
Microsoft has committed to become carbon negative by 2030 and by 2050 remove all the carbon the company has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption from the environment since it was founded in 1975. Through its AI for Good initiative, Microsoft combines its technology and expertise in artificial intelligence and data science with the talent and expertise of groups around the world to address humanitarian challenges, preserve cultural heritage, and create a more sustainable, healthier, and accessible world.
New Zealand organisations, including National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) and Sustainable Coastlines, are already leveraging Microsoft’s cloud services and resources from this initiative to address global issues.
NIWA was awarded a Microsoft AI for Earth grant to analyse past weather data and major events, such as “The Week it Snowed Everywhere” to help predict future weather patterns. In a world-first project with Microsoft, NIWA is pioneering the use of AI to scan historic weather observations and turn this information into data to help evaluate how our climate is changing over time.
Secondly, award-winning NGO and Microsoft AI for Earth grant recipient Sustainable Coastlines, which launched a Litter Database, makes citizen scientists out of New Zealanders by arming them with data to keep beaches clean. Creators of the Sustainable Coastlines app have been working alongside the Ministry for the Environment, Department of Conservation and Statistics NZ to create an additional first-of-its-kind resource, Litter Intelligence. This resource is developed in alignment with a United Nations Environment Programme methodology, which has the potential to scale globally and benefit other countries’ sustainability agendas.
Skilling for the future
Microsoft is also working to bridge the skills gap among the IT community and enhance technical acumen for cloud services to support future employability opportunities.
Microsoft has worked alongside Massey University and The Collaborative Studio to launch i4 Accelerator, a public-private education program that addresses skills shortages in primary industries, such as manufacturing and technology. The i4 accelerator supports digital skilling efforts by providing access to training for targeted skills, leadership education and workplace-based training programs to support the adoption of digital technologies. Through this work, i4 Accelerator aims to enable New Zealand logistics and technology companies to build better solutions through co-creation and collaboration.
The new data centre region in New Zealand is subject to approval from the Overseas Investment Office.