Microsoft is entering an agreement with the UK's Janet research and education network to deliver a speedier and more secure connection to services such as the Azure cloud computing platform for students and researchers. Education institutions will also get access to Office 365 under pre-agreed terms and conditions as part of the deal.
The agreement will see the establishment of a peering arrangement between the networks of the two organisations, Microsoft said. This means that traffic to Microsoft services from educational sites will not have to traverse the public internet, cutting latency and enabling a high bandwidth connection for students and researchers.
While the move will benefit students by providing faster access to resources, it will also benefit Microsoft by potentially making services such as Azure more attractive for infrastructure and websites, virtual learning environments and research projects.
Oxford University chief information officer, professor Anne Trefethen, said: "The capability afforded by Janet's peering with Microsoft's Azure Cloud with high-bandwidth secure connections creates new opportunities for researchers and the University community as a whole."
As part of the agreement, any UK education institution can also gain access to Microsoft's cloud-based Office 365 suite under standard terms and conditions negotiated by Janet. This eliminates the need for each site to negotiate individually with Microsoft for terms and conditions applicable for the education market, according to Janet.
The two parties did disclose whether the agreement also included a discount on Office 365 pricing for educational organisations.
Microsoft UK's director of education Steve Beswick said: "We are delighted to be working with Janet to provide additional value-added products and services to the research and education community. We have a long-standing relationship with this sector and are looking forward to more collaborative working with Janet to grow our offering."
Janet, formerly the Joint Academic Network, provides services for further and higher education organisations in the UK, including a dedicated network that connects them all.
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