Microsoft partners with UA for new cloud-computing center

Tech giant Microsoft announced last week that it is partnering with the University of Arizona to create a new cloud-computing research center. The facility will focus on research of data-center technology and energy optimization.

Cloud-computing centers – facilities that remotely store and manage computer data – have become increasingly important as more companies and consumers utilize the internet. In fact, according to Gartner, the cloud computing market is expected to grow by 21 percent year-over-year. Consequently, companies like Microsoft are investing their capital and research into this rapidly growing industry.

Microsoft representative Mike Miles notes that Microsoft Azure, the tech giant’s cloud computing service, “has been driving the bulk of our growth.” In fact, the demand for their cloud services has risen 47 percent year-over-year. However, as the industry grows, more energy is created, which can negatively impact the environment. Miles explains that the new University of Arizona cloud-computing center will focus largely on sustainability research.

“There’s a number of things that are problematic with this rate of growth. The first is sustainable energy – we want to make sure the energy generated in our centers is clean more often than not,” Miles asserts. “We want to determine what are more economic ways to generate clean energy, and how can our data centers generate less energy in general.”

When asked why Microsoft chose to partner with the University of Arizona, Miles explained that it can be attributed to many aspects of their strong connection. He notes that although Microsoft has relationships with other universities, “Microsoft has had a multi-faceted relationship with the University of Arizona, from engineering research to collaboration with the business school to involvement with community efforts.”

Miles also highlights the quality of research at the University of Arizona. Not only does UA have one of the highest rated engineering programs, but it also has strong computer and optical science programs, which are highly sought after by Microsoft.

This partnership will lead to more opportunities for UA students as well. Miles notes that the company will be seeking interns for their new center, and they will also be creating an educational component. “We will be creating a Bachelor’s degree for cloud-center engineering,” he states. “We expect our demand for that kind of talent to grow – that degree program will likely be very popular once it gets established.”

Microsoft and the University of Arizona will form a mutually beneficial partnership through this cloud-computing center. The new cloud-computing center will positively impact local students, national businesses, and the global environment.  

Ben Norman

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