12 Oct Microsoft announces investment in Greece for cloud services with EUR 1 billion financial benefits
On Monday, 5th October 2020, after nine months of consultations, the US tech giant, Microsoft announced its plans to build three data centers in greater Athens – an investment for cloud services – which will bring long-term financial benefits of EUR 1 billion to Greece (https://www.reuters.com/article/greece-microsoft-int/microsoft-unveils-investment-to-make-greece-a-regional-hub-for-cloud-services-idUSKBN26Q15N) (https://www.ekathimerini.com/257729/article/ekathimerini/news/microsoft-deal-opening-up-prospects).
The new data centers will establish a Microsoft Cloud region in Greece, adding it to the world’s largest cloud infrastructure footprint and delivering access to low-latency, enterprise-grade cloud services. (https://www.ekathimerini.com/257729/article/ekathimerini/news/microsoft-deal-opening-up-prospects).
This is part of Microsoft’s “GR for GRowth” initiative, a significant technology commitment to support the people, government and businesses of all sizes in Greece with technology and resources to create new opportunities for growth (https://news.microsoft.com/europe/2020/10/05/microsoft-announces-plans-for-first-datacenter-region-in-greece-as-part-of-gr-for-growth-digital-transformation-initiative/).
Although the size of Microsoft’s investment was not disclosed, the Greek government spokesman, Mr. Stelios Petsas, said that it would involve new infrastructure at a cost of EUR 500 million and annual spending of EUR 50 million in the coming years (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-greece-microsoft/microsoft-unveils-investment-to-make-greece-a-regional-hub-for-cloud-services-idUSKBN26Q155?il=0).
According to the Greek Prime Minister, Mr. Kyriakos Mitsotakis, as “Greece will become a world hub for cloud”. It would also upgrade the country as an investment destination.
Microsoft will start a training program to help fill around 100,000 jobs that the initiative will create (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-05/microsoft-to-build-greek-data-centers-as-athens-lures-investors).
The significance of this investment is reflected by what the Greek Prime Minister said, “Today’s commitment to the people and businesses of Greece will position the country among the digital leaders of Europe. A Microsoft datacenter region provides a competitive advantage to our digital economy. At the same time, it is a long-term investment and a vote of confidence in our country’s potential. The cloud is transforming every industry and sector. The investment in skilling 100,000 citizens will empower today and tomorrow’s Greek workforce” (https://news.microsoft.com/europe/2020/10/05/microsoft-announces-plans-for-first-datacenter-region-in-greece-as-part-of-gr-for-growth-digital-transformation-initiative/).
Microsoft President, Mr. Brad Smith, stated that the new hub would be beneficial to business, consumers and banks. He also tweeted that the investment will be Microsoft’s biggest in Greece in its 28 years of operating in the country, which “reflects our (Microsoft’s) optimism in Greece’s future and economic recovery” (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-05/microsoft-to-build-greek-data-centers-as-athens-lures-investors).
Additionally, Mr. Theodosis Michalopoulos, General Manager of Microsoft Greece, Cyprus and Malta, stated that “Microsoft has a rich 28-year history in Greece with a growing ecosystem of 3,000 partners and customers, including startups, enterprises and NGOs. Today, with plans for Microsoft’s first datacenter region in the country and the holistic ‘GR for GRowth’ plan, we are building on this work, leveling up our contribution to the country’s economy. Our commitment is to be a technology ally in driving growth, now and for the generations to come for our country”.
It is important to note that the Greece datacenter region will join Microsoft’s global footprint of cloud regions, now totaling 63 regions announced, with Microsoft Azure available in over 140 countries, and will provide companies local access to Microsoft’s full set of cloud services, all built on a foundation of trust. These include Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365 and Power Platform, as well as Compliance, security and privacy and Sustainably operated (https://news.microsoft.com/europe/2020/10/05/microsoft-announces-plans-for-first-datacenter-region-in-greece-as-part-of-gr-for-growth-digital-transformation-initiative/).
Moreover, Alpha Bank, Eurobank, National Bank of Greece, OTE Group, Piraeus Bank, Public Power Corporation (DEI) have all expressed their intent to use the Microsoft Cloud services when available, from the new region in Greece.
Microsoft’s cloud services will play a key role in creating new ways to digitally preserve, celebrate and experience the culture of Greece. As part of Microsoft’s AI for Cultural Heritage program, the company is collaborating with the Ministry of Culture and Sports to bring the Ancient City of Olympia to life, using artificial intelligence and other technologies.
Furthermore, in May 2020, Microsoft, , confirmed their acquisition of Greek-owned Softomotive – a company considered as a pioneer in robotic process automation (RPA) – in what was the biggest acquisition of a Greek tech company to date (https://greekcitytimes.com/2020/05/21/microsoft-scoops-up-greek-tech-firm-softomotive/).