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February 3, 2010

Microsoft, NSF to offer cloud computing resources for NSF researchers

Plan to provide access to Windows Azure for a three-year period

By CBR Staff Writer

Microsoft and the National Science Foundation (NSF) have entered into an agreement to offer individual researchers and research groups selected through NSF’s merit review process, free access to cloud computing resources.

The company said that the program is designed to broaden researcher capabilities, foster collaborative research communities and accelerate scientific discovery. Projects will be awarded and managed by NSF.

Microsoft said that it will provide cloud computing research projects identified by NSF with access to Windows Azure for a three-year period, along with a support team to help researchers integrate cloud technology into their research.

According to Microsoft, the Windows Azure provides on-demand compute and storage to host, scale and manage web applications on the internet through the company’s datacentres. Microsoft researchers and developers will work with grant recipients to equip them with a set of common tools, applications and data collections that can be shared with academic community and provide its expertise in research, science and cloud computing.

The goal of the new program is to make tools that any researcher can use to extract insights by mining and combining diverse data sets, the company said.

Dan Reed, corporate vice president of technology strategy and policy and eXtreme Computing at Microsoft, said: “Cloud computing can transform how research is conducted, accelerating scientific exploration, discovery and results. These grants will also help researchers explore rich and diverse multidisciplinary data on a large scale.”

Jeannette Wing, assistant director for the NSF computer and information science directorate, said: “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.”

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