By Mark Woodbridge, Research Software Engineering Team Lead at Imperial College. In our previous two posts we described two ways of deploying web applications to Azure: firstly using a Virtual Machine in place of an on-premise server, and then using the App Service to run a Docker container. The former provides a means of provisioning an arbitrary machine much more rapidly that would traditionally be possible, and the latter gives us a seamless route from development to production – greatly reducing the burden of long-term maintenance and monitoring.

By Kenji Takeda, Microsoft Research

When people talk about big data, data science and streaming data from devices, it can seem pretty scary. It conjures up images of complex IT infrastructure, many different systems to be stitched together, and requiring expertise beyond most researchers’ comfort zone. You certainly need to think about what you’re trying to do, but with cloud computing you can create what you need easily through a web portal, script or program. For example, researchers at the University of Oxford have taken their machine learning prototype from the lab, processing…

By Kenji Takeda, Microsoft Research

One thing that most of us never have enough of is time. Developing skills through Software Carpentry, software reusability, open data, open research, and growing the cohort of Research Software Engineers can really help reduce the time taken for us to do our research. The Software Sustainability Institute is leading the charge with this, and increasing people’s capabilities is a recipe for success. But when it comes down to it, eventually we have to run some code, a processing pipeline, big data computation, or share massive amounts of data.

By Kenji Takeda, Microsoft Research.

Well, it just got a lot easier with the new Azure Machine Learning cloud service. To find out more about how this can help your research, join Microsoft Research on 22 July for our live webinar including Q&A with Roger Barga, in Microsoft’s Cloud Machine Learning group. You can register to watch live, or on-demand afterwards.

This powerful cloud service provides the capability to visually compose machine learning experiments; access to proven algorithms from Microsoft Research, Bing, and Xbox; first-class support for R,…

By Kenji Takeda, Microsoft Research

The effects of climate change are moving from the realm of simulation to stark reality, with the most recent research showing how drier summers may also lead to more flash floods in the UK.

Understanding, managing and mitigating these effects is a critical endeavour for the global research community.

To support this effort, Microsoft Research is offering 40 Azure Awards, each with 180,000 core hours of cloud compute and 20 terabytes of cloud storage to help climate researchers.

Following two fantastic Azure for Research courses at Oxford eResearch Centre and the University of Manchester, Microsoft Research is holding its next free hands-on training event for academic researchers interested in cloud computing on May 7-8, 2014 at Eulerzaal, CWI, Amsterdam Science Park, Netherlands. To register free, visit the registration site

To read about what the course is like, check out Philip Fowler’s excellent summary of the Oxford course (Philip is a Fellow of the Institute).

The program includes a variety of hands-on labs covering Linux (and…

By Kenji Takeda, Microsoft Research

There’s a lot of talk about cloud computing, but what does it really mean for researchers? Of course, it’s not about the technology, but what we are trying to achieve with it. This varies enormously across disciplines, teams, and individual researchers, but the same stories come back time and time again: meeting paper deadlines, reproducible research, data sharing, and now big data.

What is cloud computing exactly? Well, it can be defined in different ways, but from a researcher’s perspective a nice way of summing it up is:

By Philip Fowler, Software Sustainability Institute Fellow and Postdoctoral researcher, University of Oxford.   Windows Azure is a collection of large datacenters scattered around the world (my nearest is in Ireland). By logging into the Azure portal you can spin up websites, virtual machines or even something more sophisticated, like a cloud service, in a matter of minutes. Microsoft use it as their common infrastructure, for example Azure now hosts all the Skype servers.   Anyone, not just Microsoft, can use Azure, although you will need to pay (by the minute as it turns out -…
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