Microsoft to donate '$1 billion' worth of cloud computing resources

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With great profits, comes great responsibility. Nowadays, being profitable, creating jobs and selling quality products isn't enough from a publicity perspective. Take Microsoft, for example. Windows and Office has powered countless successful businesses, while the company employs thousands of folks globally. Yet, despite those things, in order to be seen as a friendly company, the Windows-maker -- and other corporations -- must be philanthropic too. You know what though? Regardless of motivation, its donations are much appreciated.

Today, Microsoft announces that it is donating "$1 billion" worth of cloud computing resources, which it claims is "measured at fair market value". True, this is not the same as donating $1 billion to the homeless or hungry, but it is still something for which to be thankful. With that said, the dollar figure is arguably subjective, as Microsoft is pretty much setting the value. Still, the potential for this donation is immense.

"Our rationale for today's announcement is simple. Cloud computing has emerged as a vital resource for addressing the world’s problems. Cloud services can unlock the secrets held by data in ways that create new insights and lead to breakthroughs, not just for science and technology, but for addressing the full range of economic and social challenges and the delivery of better human services. They can also improve communications and problem-solving and can help organizations work in a more productive and efficient manner", says Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer, Microsoft.

Smith further explains, "cloud computing has emerged as a vital resource for addressing the world's problems. Cloud services can unlock the secrets held by data in ways that create new insights and lead to breakthroughs, not just for science and technology, but for addressing the full range of economic and social challenges and the delivery of better human services. They can also improve communications and problem-solving and can help organizations work in a more productive and efficient manner".

Regarding non-profits, Smith shares below the following specific ways that they can benefit from these donated services.

  • Microsoft Azure, so NGOs can access our data centers around the world to develop and run their applications and make use of our computing and storage power;
  • Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS), so nonprofits can manage all of their devices, applications, and data on a cross-platform basis based on industry-leading security and identity management services;
  • CRM Online, so nonprofits can use our new cloud solution for managing relationships with donors and beneficiaries;
  • The expansion of our Office 365 Nonprofit program, which currently includes the cloud-based versions of Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and will now include Microsoft’s Power BI, so nonprofit groups can make use of our newest business intelligence and data analytics.

While non-profits are worthwhile in both the short and long terms, funding university researchers is arguably the greater long term dial-mover. In other words, true solutions can be discovered by these researchers, rather than just applying a financial "Band-Aid". By utilizing the cloud, researchers can tap into new resources that will bolster analysis and predictive models.

The truly heart-touching philanthropic effort of this donation, however, is last-mile connectivity. In other words, Microsoft is continuing its push to get all people, regardless of income and location, connected to the Internet. But that's not all; rather than deliver Internet access and walking away, instead, Microsoft will provide training too.

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So what motivated Microsoft to make this push? Satya Nadella, CEO, explains, "last fall, world leaders at the United Nations adopted 17 sustainable development goals to tackle some of the toughest global problems by 2030, including poverty, hunger, health and education. A careful read of those goals reveals the central role that data and cloud computing must play for analysis and action".

Well done, Satya Nadella.

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