The National Science Foundation and Microsoft jointly announced plans today to offer researchers and research groups free access to compute servers. Researchers will be selected via the existing NSF merit review process before allocations will be granted. Microsoft will host the services within its own data centers via its previously announced Windows Azure platform. Azure was introduced at a Microsoft developer conference back in 2008 and currently hosts typical business customers.
At NSF, we see our scientists drowning in data,” said Jeannette Wing, NSF’s assistant director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE), during a press conference Thursday to announce the arrangement with Microsoft. “Now researchers won’t have to worry about infrastructure” or feel compelled to build large data centers on their own campuses.
Cloud computing partnerships are not new within the walls of the NSF. They already have existing “cloud” partnerships with both Google and IBM for hosting data intensive computing workloads. The NSF has been sponsoring computing projects for quite some time. We’ve all watched the Teragrid grow into quite the massive resource it is today. However, allocations request for Teragrid time still exceed the available cycles. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the NSF’s recent foray’s into cloud infrastructure are specifically geared towards “everyone else.” The loosely coupled nature of ‘cloud’ infrastructure could potentially have serious negative effects on throughput.
If you’re interested in reading more, check out the original article at Scientific American.