Top researchers selected by the National Science Foundation (NSF) will be provided with free access to the Microsoft Windows Azure cloud computing infrastructure to accelerate their research.

Under a deal announced between the parties, researchers indentified by NSF will be provided with access to the Microsoft Azure platform for a three-year period, along with a support team to help researchers integrate cloud technology into their research.

“We’ve entered a new era of science – one based on data driven exploration – and each new generation of computing technology, such as cloud computing, creates unprecedented opportunities for discovery,” NSF Assistant Director for Computer and Information Science Jeannette Wing said in a statement. The agreement will allow the scientific community the opportunity to leverage highly scalable cloud computing services, particularly for data-intensive applications.

In a webcast press conference, Dan Reed, Microsoft vice president for technology strategy and policy and Xtreme computing, said ever increasing amounts of data are creating a need for universities and research bodies to look for new ways to conduct computing-based research. In the future it may no longer make sense for universities to build out data centers and computing infrastructure to support their research efforts, and instead, there will be increasing reliance on cloud-based services.

The NSF is not working solely with Microsoft on the cloud front. In 2008 it partnered with Google and IBM to provide NSF-funded researchers with access to a computing platform called Cluster Exploratory (CluE). It is also working with HP, Intel and Yahoo on a cloud computing test bed housed at the University of Illinois.

Researchers looking to gain access to the program may submit a proposal to the NSF up until April 15 to apply for a cloud computing grant for the current year.

 

 

 

 

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