Sunday, August 1, 2021

Microsoft to Help Scientists With Free Azure Use

The same week that Microsoft began charging most users of its newly commercialized Windows Azure cloud computing platform, the company also said that it is giving free access to qualified scientific researchers.

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced Thursday that it will provide free use of Windows Azure for three years to projects identified by the NSF.

The idea is that the variety and sheer volume of data collected by scientific researchers has grown exponentially in recent years, and that cloud computing can help alleviate the challenges of supporting that research, including where to store and manage it.

“We are drowning in data,” Jeannette Wing, NSF assistant director, said on a joint conference call with Microsoft. “The computer science community has been investigating cloud computing [as a solution] for several years.”

One of the challenges is that building and deploying a worldwide cloud computing fabric is an enormous and expensive task in itself.

“It’s an incredible burden on institutions who spend substantial time maintaining infrastructure instead of innovating,” said Dan Reed, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Technology Policy and Strategy and eXtreme Computing Group.

Microsoft has been prepping Windows Azure for nearly a year and a half and, at the beginning of February, started charging for use of the platform.

Besides access to Azure, Microsoft’s global cloud computing platform, the company will also provide a support team to help researchers integrate cloud technology into their projects.

“Windows Azure provides on-demand compute and storage to host, scale and manage Web applications on the Internet through Microsoft datacenters,” Microsoft and the NSF said in a joint statement.

“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 the broad academic community, and also provide its expertise in research, science and cloud computing,” the statement continued.

Researchers can get access to the Azure platform by applying to the NSF with a supplemental request for an already-funded project, or through two other grant requests for funding for new projects. Some funding requests are due as early as April 15, according to the NSF.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

Similar articles

Latest Articles

Data Governance Trends 2021

Data governance trends in 2021 reflect a changing data management landscape, one focused on centralization, improved data security, and streamlined remote access. In large...

Data Management Trends 2021

Data management trends in 2021 reflect the continuing digital evolution the business world has been undergoing for several years. Enterprises are responsible for managing...

Data Management Use Cases...

Comprehensive data management is critical for companies to pull insights from their data. Data analytics and business intelligence (BI) hinge on creative data management practices,...

How Databases are Being...

Well-designed databases are essential to understanding how a business is doing.  Large amounts of data first need to be handled efficiently by databases in order...