Microsoft opens tech center in Singapore

update Software giant sets up first tech showcase center in Southeast Asia, investing S$23 million (US$18.4 million) over next five years.

update SINGAPORE--Microsoft has opened its first Southeast Asian Tech Centre here with a pledge to invest S$23 million  (US$18.4 million) in the new facility over the next five years.

In her speech at the opening here Tuesday, Jessica Tan, managing director of Microsoft Singapore, said the center will showcase new technologies and applications relevant for Microsoft customers in Singapore and the Southeast Asian region.

Since its soft launch in February, the center has received 1,000 external visitors, about 50 percent of whom had arrived from overseas, according to Chong Lee, Asia-Pacific Microsoft Technology Center director. He expects the facility to welcome 6,000 visitors by the end of 2012.

Tan added that it will not only be a showcase center as customers can "see, discuss and try" different Microsoft technologies before implementing them in their company.

Todd Cione, general manager for enterprise and partner Group at Microsoft Asia-Pacific, for the Asia-Pacific, said the center also allows Microsoft to architecture prototypes and show proofs of concept.

Companies interested in using its facilities can get in touch with their Microsoft account managers who will also proactively positioning the center as a service, Cione told ZDNet Asia. Customers of Microsoft's partner community will also be able to utilize services in the center, he added.

Besides targeting Microsoft enterprise customers, Lee noted that the center will be open to developers interested in building apps for the Windows Phone mobile operating system, or its motion-detect platform Kinect.

According to Tan, Singapore--also Microsoft's regional headquarters--was chosen as the location for the company's first tech center in Southeast Asia because of its developed market, talent base and infrastructure.

IT consumerization, cloud trending in APAC
According to Cione, consumerization of IT and cloud computing are the key trends for enterprise customers in this region.

"With the proliferation of consumer devices in the enterprise, more enterprise customers are asked by their leaders to support different applications," he said, adding that this presents both opportunities and challenges for the IT department with regard to managing and securing the devices.

The new tech center also demonstrates how companies can manage and secure a heterogeneous environment for mobile devices and data centers, he added.

It can also showcase how organizations can create and manage different cloud environments, Cione said. "When customers talk about cloud, typically, they are saying they want pooled resources, self-service, and the ability to scale up and scale down computing power," he said.

He declined to reveal how much revenue Microsoft expects to generate with the tech center. "The reason we invested in this facility is to make these products real for customers. They've made investments in our technology and we want to make sure it is being utilized at the right level," he said.