Modernising the Data Centre with Vodafone and Microsoft

To Accelerate Digital Transformation & Efficiencies in Data Centre Migration, Vodafone & Microsoft Have Partnered to Improve Overall Data Centre Strategies

Generative AI (Gen AI) and the cloud are vastly revolutionising the global data centre landscape.

With this in mind, Vodafone has signed a 10 year strategic partnership with tech giant Microsoft to bring Gen AI, digital services and the cloud to more than 300 million businesses and consumers across Europe and Africa.

Both companies aim to transform customer experience using Microsoft’s Gen AI, in addition to Vodafone wanting to scale its new standalone Internet of Things (IoT) business. Concerning the data centre industry, Vodafone will work to accelerate digital transformation and operational efficiencies in virtual data centre migration to Microsoft Azure.

Microsoft Azure: Moving towards the virtual data centre

With the data centre market continuing to expand in 2024 in line with Gen AI demand, businesses around the world are having to keep pace with innovation and the growing importance of reliable and scalable data infrastructure.

Vodafone is aiming to overhaul its global data centre strategy. The company has announced that it will invest US$1.5bn over the next 10 years in cloud and customer-focused AI services developed in partnership with Microsoft. In addition, Microsoft will use Vodafone’s fixed and mobile connectivity services.

With this in mind, Vodafone aims to accelerate its cloud transformations by modernising its data centres via the Microsoft Azure platform. The goal is to improve its responsiveness to customers and simplify and reduce IT operational costs. As a result, Vodafone will be able to replace multiple physical data centres with virtual ones across Europe, as well as reducing energy requirements and helping deliver its sustainable business strategy.

A virtual data centre is much like a traditional data centre, but it uses cloud-based resources instead of physical resources. It is able to offer businesses the ability to deploy additional infrastructure without needing to deploy or maintain physical appliances.

Both Vodafone and Microsoft will apply the Microsoft Azure OpenAI platform to deliver real-time and hyper-personalised experiences across all customer-facing services, including its digital assistant TOBi. As a result, Vodafone employees can leverage the AI capabilities of Microsoft Copilot to transform their working practices and boost their digital productivity.

Margherita Della Valle, Vodafone Group Chief Executive, says: “Vodafone has made a bold commitment to the digital future of Europe and Africa. This unique strategic partnership with Microsoft will accelerate the digital transformation of our business customers, particularly small and medium-sized companies, and step up the quality of customer experience for consumers.”

Microsoft continues its strategic investments

Vodafone also intends to grow its enterprise business with new Microsoft services for SMEs across Europe and Africa, as part of overhauling its global data centre cloud strategy. Enlisting Microsoft to assist with this task is very strategic, given that 2023 saw Microsoft commit to investing billions into global data centres in locations like the UK, Canada and Australia.

Microsoft also intends to invest in Vodafone’s new global IoT-managed connectivity platform that connects 175 million devices and platforms worldwide. Vodafone states that it wants to make the platform available to a vast developer and third-party community using APIs.

It is no secret that Microsoft is continuing to both rapidly and strategically expand its global investments, having recently overtaken Apple as the world’s most valuable public company. Its 49% stake in OpenAI and new non-voting, observer position on its board of directors highlights that the organisation intends to continue funding innovation in 2024.

“This new generation of AI will unlock massive new opportunities for every organisation and every industry around the world,” says Satya Nadella, Chairman and CEO of Microsoft. 

“We are delighted that together with Vodafone we will apply the latest cloud and AI technology to enhance the customer experience of hundreds of millions of people and businesses across Africa and Europe, build new products and services, and accelerate the company’s transition to the cloud.”

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