Microsoft Azure is the foundation for twenty-first century research
Universities today face increasing demands and constraints as they work to create a successful academic research environment. The cloud delivers flexibility, scalability, security, and cost savings, as well as the efficiency, responsiveness, and speed that Principal Investigators and post-doctoral and graduate student researchers need to achieve an even higher level of productivity and innovation.
Real innovation is based on the analysis and interpretation of data. When researchers can invest more of their resources at this level, they have a better opportunity of delivering impactful outcomes and innovations from their research. The Microsoft Azure platform takes care of infrastructure setup, network connections, data collection and storage, and more, freeing researchers to focus on innovation.
The Microsoft Azure cloud platform provides an open, flexible, global platform that supports multiple programming languages, tools, and frameworks. Not limited to the Windows platform, it also supports Linux, Python, Java, Hadoop, and the Microsoft .NET Framework, and it can provide backend services to iOS and Android with Azure Mobile Services.
There are three service models to choose from, the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS). Microsoft has added a fourth cloud service model, Research as a Service (RaaS), which supports researchers in sharing data and meeting reporting requirements. In addition Microsoft Azure can be configured in the way that best meets the university's and researchers' needs so they can choose a public, private or hybrid cloud.
Compare cloud service models to on premises
The Data Services, Application Services, and Infrastructure Services components of Microsoft Azure enable researchers to build highly available, infinitely scalable applications, and to quickly deploy and manage applications and services. Azure manages the deployment details, enabling researchers to focus on the application and not on the infrastructure. The cloud also provides real-time access to a broad set of tools, languages, and frameworks, delivering direct access to virtually unlimited computing resources.
Research data requires vast, reliable, secure storage, and the cloud makes storing massive amounts of data feasible and cost-effective since it provides the ability to scale up to meet massive compute and storage needs on demand, and scale back down when not in use in order to reduce costs.
Universities benefit from the economy of scale that Microsoft's datacenters deliver. These datacenters contain millions of servers built on inexpensive land in areas with access to cheap electricity, with efficient cooling, optimized installation and replacement servicing, thus contributing to lower costs.
Expert data center staff perform upgrades and hardware replacements in bulk and manage deployment, maintenance, and security. CIOs can feel confident about the cloud because Azure delivers 99.95% monthly availability (SLA). Confidential and highly sensitive data is secure and protected and geo-redundancy for critical data and disaster recovery is available.
The more than 125 Microsoft Research teams worldwide use Microsoft Azure cloud services in their own research, leading to innovations in computing, breakthroughs in social science research, powerful new products, and more. In addition, Microsoft has also made a huge commitment to research with Microsoft Research, backed by more than $10 billion in funding (2013).