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Microsoft makes massive cloud donation

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Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella has announced a new three-part 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, measured at fair market value, to serve non-profits and university researchers over the next three years.
Microsoft’s three-part commitment focuses on ensuring the cloud can serve the public good in the broadest sense by providing additional cloud resources to non-profits, increasing access for university researchers and helping solve last-mile Internet access challenges.
“Microsoft is empowering mission-driven organisations around the planet with a donation of cloud computing services — the most transformative technologies of our generation,” says Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who will speak at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, today. “Now more than 70 000 organisations will have access to technology that will help them solve our greatest societal challenges and ultimately improve the human condition and drive new growth equally.”
Cloud computing has emerged as a vital resource for unlocking the secrets held by data in ways that create new insights and lead to breakthroughs not just for science and technology, but for the full range of economic and social challenges and the delivery of better human services. It can also improve communications and problem-solving and help organisations work in a more productive and more efficient manner.
In September 2015, 193 heads of state and other world leaders unanimously adopted 17 sustainable development goals to achieve by 2030. This ambitious agenda — which includes ending poverty, ending hunger, and ensuring affordable, reliable and sustainable energy for all — will only be achievable with the benefit of significant inventions and technology innovations. The scale and computational power enabled by cloud computing will be essential to unlocking solutions to this list of some of the world’s seemingly unsolvable problems.
“We’re committed to helping non-profit groups and universities use cloud computing to address fundamental human challenges,” says Microsoft president Brad Smith. “One of our ambitions for Microsoft Philanthropies is to partner with these groups and ensure that cloud computing reaches more people and serves the broadest array of societal needs.”
Specific elements of the new initiative include these:
* Serving the broad needs of the non-profit community. A new global donation program will make Microsoft Cloud Services, including Microsoft Azure, Power BI, CRM Online and the Enterprise Mobility Suite, more available to non-profit organizations through Microsoft Philanthropies. The program builds upon an already successful programme that provides similar access to Office 365 for non-profits. The non-profit program for Microsoft Cloud Services will begin rolling out this spring, and Microsoft Philanthropies aims to serve 70,000 non-profits in the next three years with these Microsoft Cloud Services.
* Expanding access to cloud resources for faculty research in universities. Microsoft Research and Microsoft Philanthropies will expand by 50% the Microsoft Azure for Research program that grants free Azure storage and computing resources to help faculty accelerate their research on cutting-edge challenges. Today this program provides free cloud computing resources for over 600 research projects on six continents.
* 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.
* Providing non-profits with better access to Microsoft Cloud Services, including the powerful Microsoft Azure platform, builds upon Microsoft’s long-time commitment to making cutting-edge technology available at no or low cost to organisations working on solving some of society’s toughest problems.
In recent years, as organisations have increased their reliance on cloud computing, Microsoft has worked in partnership with a broad range of organisations focused on big challenges.