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Microsoft Ramps up Cloud, AI, Data Centre Investment in SE Asia

CEO Satya Nadella meets heads of state to discuss and unveil projects in Indonesia and Thailand that will use its generative AI and cloud services. He heads to Malaysia on Thursday

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks in Bangkok at the unveiling of the group's first data in Thailand, Wednesday May 1, 2024 (Microsoft image).


Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella has flown into Southeast Asia to announce a range of investments in data centres, AI and cloud services.

On Wednesday, Nadella said the tech giant would open its first regional data centre in Thailand, as it looks to boost availability of cloud services.

The news comes a day after the CEO announced investments worth $1.7 billion in artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud facilities in neighbouring Indonesia.


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Turning point for Thai digital economy: PM

“The data centre region will expand the availability of Microsoft’s hyperscale cloud services,” the company said in a statement.

“What that means is that is, not only do you have full capability of Azure in Thailand, but the best world-class AI infrastructure,” Nadella said at an event in Bangkok, the Thai capital, referring to the company’s cloud computing platform.

The Thailand data centre will also help enterprise-grade reliability, performance, and compliance with data residency and privacy standards, Microsoft added in the statement.

The data centre was in line with Thailand’s aim to become a digital economy hub, Prime Minister Srettha Thaivisin said.

“Microsoft’s investment is an important turning point in the development of Thailand’s digital economy, increasing competitiveness,” Srettha posted on social media, adding that it would fuel economic growth.

Microsoft has over 300 data centres in over 60 regions around the world.


Nadella met Widodo, ministers in Jakarta

On Tuesday, Nadella was in Jakarta, to announced that Microsoft will invest $1.7 billion over the next four years to expand cloud services and artificial intelligence in Indonesia, including building data centres.

It was the CEO’s first stop on a trip to three Southeast Asian countries aimed at promoting the US company’s generative AI technology. He will go to Malaysia after Thailand later this week.

Microsoft would “bring the latest and greatest AI infrastructure to Indonesia,” Nadella said. “We’re going to lead this wave in terms of AI infrastructure that’s needed.”

The tech boss met outgoing President Joko Widodo and his cabinet ministers earlier on Tuesday to discuss joint AI research and talent development, Communications Minister Budi Arie Setiadi told reporters.

Widodo suggested Microsoft base its data centres on the resort island of Bali or in the new capital city Nusantara, which is still under construction in the jungle of Borneo, the minister said.

Luhut Pandjaitan, the coordinating minister for investment, was at the meeting and said after the government  would provide green energy to enable Microsoft to operate its data centres in a low-carbon way, according to Nikkei.

Apple and Nvidia are also looking at the possibility of building facilities in Indonesia, it said.


Training in use of AI

Microsoft, meanwhile, will train 2.5 million people in Southeast Asia in AI use by 2025, Nadella said, including 840,000 in Indonesia.

Microsoft is trying to expand its support for the development of AI globally, including with a $2.9 billion investment in cloud and AI infrastructure in Japan and a $1.5 billion investment in UAE-based AI firm G42.

Nadella’s Jakarta visit comes two weeks after Apple CEO Tim Cook met Widodo and said he would look into building a manufacturing facility in Indonesia.

Indonesia has a huge, tech-savvy population, making the Southeast Asian nation a key target market for tech-related investment.

Last week, Microsoft beat Wall Street estimates for third-quarter revenue and profit, driven by gains from adoption of artificial intelligence across its cloud services.


  • Reuters with additional input and editing by Jim Pollard



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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years.


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