Microsoft SEA blitz continues with $2.2 billion cloud/AI pact in Malaysia

Following similar announcements in Indonesia and Thailand, Microsoft announced an even bigger deal in Malaysia on Thursday, pledging to invest $2.2 billion in new cloud and AI infrastructure in the country over the next four years.

On the third leg of its Microsoft Build: AI Day tour of Southeast Asia, Microsoft said at its event in Kuala Lumpur that the multibillion-dollar investment is the largest investment Microsoft has made in Malaysia since it entered the country 32 years ago.

In addition to building cloud and AI infrastructure, the investment includes AI skills opportunities for 200,000 people in the country, building the Malaysian developer community and working with the government to establish a national AI Center of Excellence, as well as improving the country’s cybersecurity capabilities. .

Microsoft said the investment builds on the Bersama Malaysia initiative, announced in April 2021, to support inclusive economic growth. That initiative also included plans to establish Microsoft’s first data center region in Malaysia.

That data center still has to be built. However, last month, Malaysian property development company Crescendo Corporation Berhad (CCB) said Microsoft had purchased a 102,560 square meter plot of land in Johor, which has become a hotbed of data center development in Malaysia. According to CCB, Microsoft bought the lot for a cash consideration of RM132.4 million (US$27.8 million).

Microsoft made similar announcements in Indonesia and Thailand earlier this week, making major commitments to building cloud and AI infrastructure, as well as AI upskilling. For Indonesia, Microsoft said it would invest $1.7 billion in Indonesia over the next four years. No financial details were given about the announcement in Thailand, which also included the creation of Microsoft’s first data center region there.

Microsoft has committed to building a data center region in Indonesia in 2021 and says it is currently building data centers in West Java.

The AI ​​skills programs included in all three announcements are part of a broader regional initiative announced by Microsoft on Tuesday. Under that initiative, Microsoft has committed to bringing AI skills capabilities to 2.5 million people in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam by 2025, working with governments, nonprofit and business organizations, and communities in those countries.

Kearney research predicts that AI could contribute nearly $1 trillion to Southeast Asia’s GDP by 2030. According to the study, Thailand could potentially rake in $117 billion of that, while Indonesia could rake in $366 billion.

“The arrival of ChatGPT created a new industry in the startup world. As more companies embrace the power of AI, having the right digital infrastructure in Malaysia is key to future-proofing our country’s economy,” Malaysian Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli said in a statement. “Microsoft’s investment will help accelerate the adoption of generative AI, build a pipeline of AI-driven startups, and benefit our economy through higher productivity and higher wages.”