Microsoft Research has announced the launch of Windows Azure for Research – a cloud platform that will facilitate the acceleration of scientific research and discovery by enabling scientists to perform big data computations.

Divided into four components – Windows Azure for Research Awards Program; Training; Technical resources and curriculum; and Research community engagements, Windows Azure for Research will enable scientists and researchers to accelerate their research and scientific discovery efforts “by taking advantage of the same platform that thousands of our [Microsoft’s] commercial customers” have used.

The platform, as Microsoft notes, can be utilized by an individual researcher as well as large teams comprising of multiple researchers. “Science is at an inflection point where the challenges of dealing with massive amounts of data and the growing requirements of distributed multidisciplinary collaborations make moving to the Windows Azure cloud extremely attractive”, notes Microsoft.

Redmond noted that on top of the original platform as a service capabilities of Azure, researchers can utilize the power of Hadoop services through HDInsight; virtual networks; various database services; persistent Windows and Linux virtual machines; and programming support for languages such as C++, C#, F#, Java, Python, Ruby, and R.

Dennis Gannon, Director of Cloud Research Strategy at Microsoft Research Connections, notes that Microsoft Research is committed “to support the scientific community to build and use cloud-based data collections and tools that will drive new discoveries and create new and innovative scenarios for using cloud computing.”

More information can be found here.