Microsoft Announces Azure Grant Program


Winning institutions will receive Azure cloud resources and training.

Academic and research institutes have a chance for some free cloud time under a new program announced by Microsoft. The new Windows Azure for Research program will provide grants designed to "help the research community use the cloud to advance scientific knowledge."

Microsoft's Azure cloud platform has branched out from its beginnings as a tool for running virtual Windows and cloud-based .net. Azure now supports persistent Linux virtual machines, Hadoop services, and mobile support for Android and iOS devices.

This new initiative seems intended to introduce Azure to scientific computing circles that now heavily favor Linux and open source tools. According to Microsoft, the Azure for Research program has four components:

  • Research awards: direct grants of Azure resources will be assigned to 100 grant winners per year. Grants will be for "individual or community projects to host scientific data and services."
  • Training: a series of 20 or more worldwide training events will educate scientific professionals on using Azure for science.
  • Technical Resources and Curriculum: online documentation and resources for those who are studying or teaching cloud computing.
  • Research Community Engagements: funding for an annual Azure for Research workshop, plus support for other scientific gatherings.

According to Microsoft's Cloud Research Strategy director Dennis Gannon, "We are encouraged by many of the new open-source scientific tools that are now available on Windows Azure, and we are eager to see more being built and distributed in the year ahead."


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