Microsoft Executive Vice President Jason Zander: Digital Transformation Accelerating Across the Energy Spectrum; Being Carbon Negative by 2030; The…

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Microsoft Executive Vice President Jason Zander says the company has never been more busy partnering with the energy industry on cloud technologies and energy transition; the combination of COVID-19 and the oil market shock has condensed years of digital transformation into a two-month period; the companys return to its innovative roots and its goal to have removed all of the companys historic carbon emissions by 2050 in the latest edition of CERAWeek Conversations.

In a conversation with IHS Markit (NYSE: INFO) Vice Chairman Daniel Yergin, Zanderwho leads the companys cloud services business, Microsoft Azurediscusses Microsofts rapid and massive deployment of cloud-based apps that have powered work and commerce in the COVID-19 economy; how cloud technologies are optimizing business and vaccine research; the next frontiers of quantum computing and its potential to take problems that would take, literally, a thousand years, you might be able to solve in 10 seconds, and more.

The complete video is available at: http://www.ceraweek.com/conversations

Selected excerpts:Interview Recorded Thursday, July 16, 2020

(Edited slightly for brevity only)

Watch the complete video at: http://www.ceraweek.com/conversations

Weve already prepositioned in over 60 regions around the world hundreds of data center, millions and millions of server nodestheyre already there. If you can imagine COVID, if you had to go back and do a procurement exercise and figure out a place to put the equipment, and the supply chains were actually shut down for a while because of COVID. Thats why I say, even three to five years ago we as industries would have been pretty challenged to respond as quickly as we had.

Thats on the more tactical end of the spectrum. On the other end weve also done a lot of things around data sets and advanced data work. How do we find a cure? Weve done things like [protein] folding at home and making sure that those things could be hosted on the cloud. These are thingsthat will be used in the search of a vaccine for the virus. Those are wildly different spectrums from the tactical 'we need to manage and do logistics' to 'we need a search for things that are going to get us all back to basically normal.'

Theres also a whole bunch of stimulus packages and payment systems that are getting created and deployed. Weve had financial services companies that run on top of the cloud. They may have been doing a couple of hundred big transactions a day; weve had them do tens to hundreds of thousands a day when some of this kicked in.

The point is with the cloud I can just go to the cloud, provision it, use it, and eventually when things cool back down, I can just shut it off. I dont have to worry about having bought servers, find a place for them to live, hiring people to take care of them.

There was disruption in supply chain also. Many of us saw this at least in the Statesif you think even the food supply chain, every once in a while, youd see some hiccups. Theres a whole bunch of additional work that weve done around how do we do even better planning around that, making sure we can hit the right levels of scale in the future? God forbid we should have another one of these, but I think we can and should be responsible to make sure that weve got it figured out.

The policy and investment sideit has never been more important for us to collaborate with healthcare, universities, and with others. Weve kicked off a whole bunch of new partnerships and work that will benefit us in the future. This was a good wake up call for all of us in figuring out how to marshal and be able to respond even better in the future.

Weve had a lot of cases where people have been moving out of their own data centers and into ours. Let us basically take care of that part of the system. We can run it cheaply and efficiently. Im seeing a huge amount of data center accelerationfolks that really want to move even faster on getting their workloads removed. Thats true for oil and gas but its also true for the financial sector and retail.

Specifically, for oil and gas, one of the things that were trying to do in particular is bring this kind of cloud efficiency, this kind of AI, and especially help out with places where you are doing exploration. What these have in common is the ability to take software especially from the [independent software vendors] that work in the spacereservoir simulation, explorationand marry that to these cloud resources where I can spin things up and spin things down. I can take advantage of that technology that Ive got, and I am more efficient. I am not spending capex; I can perhaps do even more jobs than I was doing before. That allows me to go do that scale. If youre going to have less resources to do something, you of course want to increase your hit rate; increase your efficiency. Those are some of the core things that were seeing.

A lot of folks, especially in oil and gas, have some of the most sophisticated high-performance computing solutions that are out there today. What we want to be able to do with the cloud is to be able to enable you to do even more of those solutions in a much more efficient way. Weve got cases where people have been able to go from running one reservoir simulation job a day on premises [to] where they can actually go off to the cloud and since we have all of this scale and all of this equipment, you can spin up and do 100 in one day. If that is going to be part of how you drive your efficiency, then being able to subscribe to that and go up and down its helping you do that job much more efficiently than you used to and giving you a lot more flexibility.

Were investing in a $1 billion fund over the next four years for carbon removal technology. We also are announcing a Microsoft sustainability calculator for cloud customers. Basically, you can help get transparency into your Scope 1,2, and 3 carbon emissions to get control. You can think of us as we want to hit this goal, we want to do it ourselves, we want to figure out how we build technology to help us do that and then we want to share that technology with others. And then all along the way we want to partner with energy companies so that we can all be partnering together on this energy transition.

From a corporate perspective weve made pledges around being carbon negative, but then also working with our energy partners. The way that we look at this is youre going to have continued your requirements and improvements in standards of living around the entire planet. One of the core, critical aspects to that is energy. The world needs more energy, not less. There are absolutely the existing systems that we have out there that we need to continue to improve, but they are also a core part of how things operate.

What we want to do is have a very responsible program where were doing things like figuring out how to go carbon negative and figuring out ways that we as a company can go carbon negative. At the same time, taking those same techniques and allowing others to do the same and then partnering with energy companies around energy transformation. We still want the investments in renewables. We want to figure out how to be more efficient at the last mile when we think about the grid. I generally find that when you get that comprehensive answer back to our employees, they understand what we are doing and are generally supportive.

Coming up is a digital feedback loop where you get enough data thats coming through the system that you can actually start to be making smart decisions. Our expectation is well have an entire connected environment. Now we start thinking about smart cities, smart factories, hospitals, campuses, etc. Imagine having all of that level of data thats coming through and the ability to do smart work shedding or shaping of electrical usage, things where I can actually control brownout conditions and other things based on energy usage. Theres also the opportunity to be doing smart sharing of systems where we can do very efficient usage systemsintelligent edge and edge deployments are a core part of that.

How do we keep all the actual equipment that people are using safe? If you think about 5G and additional connectivity, were getting all this cool new technology thats there. You have to figure out a way in which youre leveraging silicon, youre leveraging software and the best in securityand were investing in all three.

The idea of being able to harness particle physics to do computing and be able to figure out things in minutes that would literally take centuries to go pull off otherwise in classical computing is kind of mind-blowing. Were actually working with a lot of the energy companies on figuring out how could quantum inspired algorithms make them more efficient today. As we get to full scale quantum computing then they would run natively in hardware and would be able to do even more amazing things. That one has just the potential to really, really change the world.

The meta point is problems that would take, literally, a thousand years, you might be able to solve in 10 seconds. Weve proven how that kind of technology can work. The quantum-inspired algorithms therefore allow us to take those same kind of techniques, but we can run them on the cloud today using some of the classic cloud computers that are there. Instead of taking 1,000 years, maybe its something that we can get done in 10 days, but in the future 10 seconds.

About CERAWeek Conversations:

CERAWeek Conversations features original interviews and discussion with energy industry leaders, government officials and policymakers, leaders from the technology, financial and industrial communitiesand energy technology innovators.

The series is produced by the team responsible for the worlds preeminent energy conference, CERAWeek by IHS Markit.

New installments will be added weekly at http://www.ceraweek.com/conversations.

Recent segments also include:

A complete video library is available at http://www.ceraweek.com/conversations.

About IHS Markit (www.ihsmarkit.com)

IHS Markit (NYSE: INFO) is a world leader in critical information, analytics and solutions for the major industries and markets that drive economies worldwide. The company delivers next-generation information, analytics and solutions to customers in business, finance and government, improving their operational efficiency and providing deep insights that lead to well-informed, confident decisions. IHS Markit has more than 50,000 business and government customers, including 80 percent of the Fortune Global 500 and the worlds leading financial institutions. Headquartered in London, IHS Markit is committed to sustainable, profitable growth.

IHS Markit is a registered trademark of IHS Markit Ltd. and/or its affiliates. All other company and product names may be trademarks of their respective owners 2020 IHS Markit Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Microsoft Executive Vice President Jason Zander: Digital Transformation Accelerating Across the Energy Spectrum; Being Carbon Negative by 2030; The...

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