Microsoft announced Tuesday it will donate cloud computing resources worth $1 billion to global nonprofits over the next three years, in a move that it said was aimed at ensuring that benefits of technology were not limited to the wealthy. The U.S. tech giant, which stepped up its charity efforts under the banner of “Microsoft Philanthropies” last month, has been trying to aggressively expand its cloud computing services amid rising competition.
“If cloud computing is one of the most important transformations of our time, how do we ensure that its benefits are universally accessible? What if only wealthy societies have access to the data, intelligence, analytics and insights that come from the power of mobile and cloud computing?,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wrote in a blog post.
Cloud services provide computing power, back-end software and applications over the internet to consumers and businesses, giving them a viable alternative to buying and managing computers and software themselves.
In a separate blog post, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith explained that most of the $1 billion would be used to provide free or discounted cloud services to nonprofit groups worldwide. Those services include Microsoft's Azure computing power and data storage which allows organizations to host their own websites and applications in Microsoft’s data centers, Office 365 internet-based corporate programs and other products. The company will also seek to expand access to its Azure for Research Program, which provides free access to the cloud computing platform to universities.
“We know from experience that this program can make a critical difference for researchers in universities,” Smith wrote. “From protecting forests in Brazil to fighting wildfires in Greece, and from developing new medicines in the United Kingdom to modeling flood risks in Texas, dedicated university researchers have used Microsoft Azure to advance their cutting-edge research projects,”
The company said it aims to reach 70,000 nonprofits worldwide through the program. Additionally, it said the increase in the use of Azure at universities will represent a 50 percent expansion of the existing program that already covers 600 institutions.