Microsoft has been quietly expanding its presence in Southside Virginia since opening its cloud computing datacenter in Boydton a decade ago. Aside from numerous site expansions — Microsoft’s regional campus has now grown to 1.1 million square feet — the tech giant has stepped up its philanthropy in Southside, such as by contributing $200,000 to the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center IT Academy and donating 10 Surface Pro 3 tablet computers to the Mentor Role Model program.
But Microsoft has taken some lessons from the local community, too.
“It can be said that the model for the DCA (Data Center Academy) program began with the partnership between SVHEC and Microsoft and we now are scaling this program to our global portfolio of datacenter communities,” explained Anthony Putorek, Senior Lead Workforce Development Program Manager at Microsoft.
The Datacenter Academy program is a Microsoft-specific training program modeled after the IT Academy in South Boston. Microsoft has taken advantage of the most successful parts of the IT Academy and used it to design a training program that the company has implemented worldwide.
“As a result of this partnership, Microsoft has incorporated these features into ... the Microsoft Datacenter Academy (DCA),” Putorek said.
Because datacenters require large amounts of land and access to electricity and water, all at low cost, Microsoft builds these massive facilities in rural areas. At the same time, however, rural communities pose a unique challenge to Microsoft’s recruitment staff by making it harder to recruit skilled labor. The IT Academy provides a model of how to train those workers locally.