Bringing the Power of the Cloud to the Research Community

Posted by Dan Reed 
Corporate Vice President, Technology Strategy and Policy

Microsoft has long believed in the need for government and the private sector to work together to advance science and technology.   A few of my colleagues, such as Rick Rashid of Microsoft Research, have blogged on the topic here.

Today, I am pleased to highlight a new partnership that embodies precisely this belief.  Microsoft and theNational Science Foundation have announced an agreement that will provide free access to advanced cloud computing resources for select NSF-funded researchers for the next three years.  

It is our shared hope that the storage and computational power of Windows Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, and access to easy-to-use client and cloud tools will enable researchers to accelerate scientific breakthroughs in vital yet highly complex areas of inquiry, ranging from climate change to genetics.

As I blogged at the time we announced Windows Azure,  cloud computing offers a potential mechanism to increase the efficiency of current scientific research, ensure continuity of critical data and enable new kinds of research not now feasible. 

By using the Internet to access vast networks of powerful computers in remote data centers, cloud computing can help researchers gather unprecedented quantities of information and manipulate it in ways only dreamed of a few years ago.   In the area of climate change, for instance, inexpensive weather sensors can record minute-by-minute measurements across a vast area, and scientists in disparate locations can quickly sort and search the data looking for trends that previously might have been undetectable.

Equally importantly, to address 21st century challenges, we must democratize access to rich data and complex computational models, empowering a broader range of researchers via easy-to-use cloud tools.  As part of the project, Microsoft researchers and developers will also work closely with the NSF grant recipients to equip them with a set of tools to assist them in expanding their research into the cloud.  

For more on today’s announcement stop by my personal blog, Reed’s Ruminations, or take a look at theofficial press release jointly issued by Microsoft and the NSF.

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