Microsoft announces significant investments to further Canadian innovation and growth

Investments include new Data Innovation Centre of Excellence, expansion of Canadian cloud infrastructure and 500 new technical roles

TORONTO – March 24, 2021 –   Today, Microsoft announced the creation of a new Data Innovation Centre of Excellence, increased local technical talent and the addition of a new Azure Edge Zone. The newly created Data Innovation Centre of Excellence will provide deep technical resources to help Canadian organizations harness the power of data and cloud technology to accelerate their digital transformation. Microsoft also announced the addition of a new Azure Edge Zone in Western Canada, further increasing their significant cloud footprint in Canada, and the addition of 500 local technical jobs.

The recovery from the pandemic will be digital and to help Canada lead, Microsoft continues to build out its robust Canadian cloud and deep technical expertise. Canadian organizations of all sizes and types are already leveraging technology to power their transformation, relying on the power of data analytics and AI as they look to not only recover, but lead in the post-pandemic economy. In fact, a recent survey from PWC found that nearly half of global CEOs plan increases in their long-term investment in digital transformation.

The Data Innovation Centre of Excellence, which will open in Microsoft’s new downtown Toronto headquarters, will provide critical data analytics and local engineering expertise to Canadian customers, partners and non-profits from coast to coast. Customers will have the opportunity to ideate and co-innovate on transformative solutions; the Data Innovation Centre of Excellence provides a safe experimental environment, gives customers a place where they can test early capabilities and share best practices to help accelerate their digital strategy.

Headquartered in Toronto, Manulife, a leading international financial services group, chose Microsoft Azure as one of its cloud platforms to support its agility, scalability, risk management and cost-efficiency and to accelerate the support of new business models.

“Being in Azure puts us on track to deliver ongoing improvements to our offerings, solidify our position as a digital leader in the industry and bring our customers the best possible service,” said Shamus Weiland, Global Chief Information Officer, Manulife.

“The pandemic accelerated digital transformations for organizations in all sectors of our economy. Business and government leaders now recognize the opportunity in leveraging data to enhance efficiency for competitiveness and to better serve customers and citizens,” said Kevin Peesker, President, Microsoft Canada. “Data creates unique opportunities for organizations only if they have the tools and talent to manage it securely and compliantly, which is why we are launching the Data Innovation Centre of Excellence, to further leverage our data and AI expertise/leadership to empower Canadian organizations.”

Increasing cloud presence in Canada

Canadian organizations have relied on technology to address the unique challenges of the pandemic. Cloud solutions are being rapidly adopted in Canada and globally due to enhanced technology agility, increased security, deep services in data and AI and beneficial economics. Access to cloud has enhanced technology flexibility, enabling near real time pivoting of business models and delivery of citizen services. Cloud based no code/low code solutions along with collaboration technology such as Microsoft Teams have enabled organizations to respond quickly to changing demands.

With two local data centre regions and the recently announced Azure Availability Zones, the addition of the Azure Edge Zone in Vancouver builds on Microsoft’s already extensive cloud presence in Canada.

Azure Edge Zones are extensions of Azure’s cloud services and are intended to place infrastructure close to customers to support latency-sensitive workloads and improve connectivity to the world’s largest cloud. The Vancouver Edge Zone is complementary to existing Canadian Azure locations and will enable Western Canadian healthcare and public sector customers to address data residency and compliance requirements.

In addition, the company also announced that Microsoft Vancouver is adding more than 500 jobs in 2021 to build leading applications in Intelligent Communications, Office, Azure, OneDrive, Web Experiences and mixed reality, growing their presence in the city to 1,700 employees and to more than 3,700 employees across Canada.

“Microsoft is committed to helping Canada emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever. Our deep cloud and talent investments, combined with our widespread skilling efforts, will help organizations of all types and sizes accelerate their digital transformation,” said Peesker.

Recently, Vancouver-based Terramera introduced a proposal for the company’s collaborative initiative focused on regenerative agriculture, an effort to be powered by Microsoft Azure.

“Microsoft Azure is perfectly suited to enable our AI/machine learning platform to perform at the national and global scale required for global regenerative agriculture efforts,” said Travis Good, Chief Technology Officer, Terramera. “With Azure, we can deliver impactful, human-centric solutions to farmers and provide Canadian leadership in technology, climate change and agriculture.”

To learn more about Microsoft’s cloud capabilities in Canada, visit here.

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