Satya Nadella: ‘Microsoft has invested $3bn in building Europe’s cloud’

3 Oct 2016

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in Dublin this morning. Image: Naoise Culhane

As Microsoft’s European cloud investment accelerates, the software giant’s leaders said it was right to fight US government and win on the principle of privacy.

Before a packed hall of software developers, resellers, partners and, of course, Microsoft employees at the Convention Centre in Dublin, the CEO of Microsoft Satya Nadella today (3 October) told the Microsoft Ireland tech gathering that the company’s cloud investment in Europe now stands at $3bn.

This includes Microsoft’s massive pair of data centres in west Dublin that are understood to have involved around $1bn of this investment.

‘We believe that just like you build websites and mobile apps, every business is going to have a bot interface’

Future Human

“We are building our cloud as a global hyper-scale cloud. We now have over 30 regions across all parts of the globe making sure there is access to the cloud.

“In Europe, we have data centres in Ireland, Amsterdam, the UK, [and] Germany and this week we are announcing an expansion in France. We cover more regions than any other cloud provider in Europe.

“We have invested over $3bn in Europe to deliver a global scale cloud.”

Microsoft CEO on the digital future of business

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in Dublin

Nadella, who was appointed CEO of Microsoft two years ago after taking over from Steve Ballmer, said that Microsoft’s mission is to build out as much computer resources to the edge as possible, to develop a truly distributed computing fabric on a worldwide scale.

The key to this is creating a global trusted hybrid infrastructure for the public cloud. He highlighted how Irish organisations from the HSE to Cubic Telecom and AIB are at the forefront of using the cloud to enable digital transformation.

“What will define the next generation of applications will be the fact that they will embody machine learning and artificial intelligence.

“We are building out Azure as the world’s first AI supercomputer.

“Every compute node will have FPGAs that will enable the cloud to run at the speed of silicon.”

Nadella also said that AI and the digital transformation won’t be confined to the tech industry. “We believe that just like you build websites and mobile apps, every business is going to have a bot interface.”

He added that in a world with ever-present cloud, IoT sensors everywhere and analytical power on every device, business models will change.

“It will no longer be the case that digital business models will be only relevant for software companies. Digital business models will matter for every company, every vertical from healthcare to manufacturing and agriculture.

“Businesses will have the ability to create feedback loops between data and the business, receive predictions but be able to act on those predictions.”

Defending privacy

Also speaking this morning was Microsoft president Brad Smith who pointed out that 31 years ago, Microsoft created its first overseas facility in Dublin.

“Little did we know back then when we made the investment that we would be eventually investing in data centres as well.

‘Little did we know that we would win a case that Fortune magazine said created a good week for Microsoft but also for the cloud’

“It is an issue that brings us back to Europe this week to create a new conversation around the cloud and how it will serve the broader good.

“Little did we know that this data centre in Dublin would lead to litigation and to a case filed against our own government,” Smith said referring to the landmark court victory Microsoft secured over the US government.

In July, a US court ruled that the US government cannot force Microsoft and other companies to turn over customer emails stored on servers outside the US. The case hinged upon an email stored on a Microsoft server at its data centre in Dublin.

“Little did we know that we would win a case that Fortune magazine said created a good week for Microsoft but also for the cloud.

“We were standing up for an important principle: it is important to establish that no government can reach into other people’s email in other parts of the world.

“It is important to stand up for people globally and that is what we want to talk about throughout Europe this week,” Smith said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years