Tuesday, May 3, 2011

NSF Gives Three Life-Science Projects $1.2M Grant to Test Microsoft’s Azure Cloud

Three life-science projects are among 13 teams that will have free access to Microsoft’s Azure cloud-computing platform for two years as part of an agreement between Microsoft and the National Science Foundation.
The life-science projects, led by researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute; the University of North Carolina, Charlotte; and the J. Craig Venter Institute, were awarded a total of $1.2 million in grants under the program, which kicked off in 2010 (BI02/10/2010). The awardees were announced last week.
In addition to providing access to the cloud, Microsoft will provide a support team, tools, applications, and data collections to help the scientists integrate cloud technology into their research.
An NSF review board considered the “appropriateness” of each proposal to the Azure platform’s capabilities, Reed Beaman, a program director at the agency, told BioInform.
For example, he said, the reviewers considered the fact that the platform is very strong in so-called “embarrassingly parallel” computations and in its ability to deploy web services.
He observed that in addition to providing Microsoft an opportunity to test the limits of its cloud computing platform, the partnership saves research dollars that would otherwise have been spent on hardware.

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