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Microsoft Azure and Cloud Computing Research

March 3, 2014 No Comments

Cloud Computing is not only changing how we communicate and do business, the cloud has provided the raw computing power needed to advance university sponsored research. Windows Azure has teamed up universities all across the world to award research grants to projects that can utilize the Azure cloud computing infrastructure. Microsoft’s research committee meets on the 15th day of every even numbered month in order to discuss research projects that have been submitted for review. Microsoft is thrilled with the response that this program has generated and more and more research projects continue to thrive due to Microsoft Azure grants.

Microsoft boasts several positive stories surrounding academic research on the Azure public cloud infrastructure. One of the most publicized projects is the research project that aims to end forest fires before they begin using the power of analytics. Microsoft even released a short film about how this university sponsored Big Data project is a perfect use of the academic resources. Academic cloud computing research’s main goal is the betterment of the environment and mankind.

Academic projects are a huge driver behind the cloud becoming a mainstream technology in such a short amount of time. In a business sense, the cloud can help increase profits and efficiency. In the real world, the cloud can help organizations use the power of real time analytics which can trigger alarms that can help communities potentially avert a crisis situation. The Microsoft funded forest fire cloud project is a perfect example of this phenomenon in action.

Windows Azure even provides training for those wanting to contribute to academic endeavors. Several prerecorded webinars are available to help a candidate know what to expect before diving into the project. Those who attend a live training session will receive a free 6 month trial of Windows Azure. Much of the training for Azure is related to programming. Computer scientists who have a strong programming background are ideal candidates for this type of training. Microsoft has scheduled live conferences all across the world that teaches researchers how to use Azure.

Windows Azure has benefited as being a leader in cloud academic research. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella oversaw the Azure during his tenure as cloud chief of Microsoft. Now that Nadella has risen to the spot of CEO, you can expect Microsoft to become more mobile and cloud oriented with a heavy focus on academic research. Since academic research is the reason we have cloud computing, Microsoft fueled by Nadella’s cloud know-how will do its part to give back to the academic community by continuing to provide Azure infrastructure grants to worthy research projects.

A Close Look

As for Windows Azure itself, is blossoming with added functionality each and everyday. The core services provided by Windows Azure are scalable solutions that can be utilized by businesses and organizations of any size or budget.

A Legitimate Platform as a Service for Developers

Although the statistics aren’t clear, experts say that Windows Azure is a sophisticated website hosting platform that allows the administrator to host Windows, Linux and other types of virtual machines as an elastic computing solution. Since Microsoft has invested significantly in making Windows Azure developer friendly, coders can begin plugging away in .Net, PHP, Ruby, Python or any other development language in seconds. Microsoft has also been in a heated pricing battle with Amazon, which has only driven the cost of Windows Azure lower. Microsoft’s own research says that developers prefer the functionality of Windows Azure over other cloud services.

The Azure Dashboard

With Azure, you can easily deploy enterprise grade operating systems throughout your virtual environment in about 60 seconds. The Azure dashboard allows you quickly provision and create virtual machine templates based on your organization’s needs. Azure is flexible in the fact that it allows you to deploy more than just Microsoft products. You will be able to deploy CentOS, Ubuntu, Oracle and other type of images in which you can setup in your public cloud. Azure is also ideal for hosting SharePoint and MS SQL servers.

Windows Azure has been known to run promotions that allow new users to receive up to $200 in free credits that will let you test drive the Azure Dashboard. With just a few clicks, you can build virtual machines that can be setup to elastically expand when demand dictates that more services are needed.

Service Level Agreement

Microsoft stands behind Azure and if Azure doesn’t meet its own predefined standards, Microsoft will gladly refund your money based on their SLA that you must agree to before signing up for Azure. Microsoft guarantees 99.9% uptime for all of its Azure services and if this isn’t achieved, rebates are available for affected users.

Windows Azure is a preview of the future of Microsoft. Scott Guthrie recently became the newly anointed cloud king at Microsoft and his extensive background in development will only make Azure more dev friendly. The architecture is friendly and familiar for those that already use Microsoft products and the learning curve for Azure is quite small. Using Windows Azure is like a world class datacenter at your fingertips for a fraction of the cost of leasing dedicated or collocated equipment.



Natalie Lehrer is a senior contributor for CloudWedge. In her spare time, Natalie enjoys exploring all things cloud and is a music enthusiast. Follow Natalie’s daily posts on Twitter: @Cloudwedge, or on Facebook.

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