Microsoft and the Alan Turing Institute have announced a deal under which the firm will donate $5m of cloud credit for its Azure platform to the organisation over the next five years.
Professor Andrew Blake, director of the Institute, announced the agreement at the Microsoft Transform event in London this morning, claiming that it will have a big impact on the organisation.
“We are delighted to announce that today we have signed an agreement with Microsoft which will provide us with $5m of cloud credit over five years on the Azure cloud service system. This will make such a difference to work we can do,” he said.
Professor Blake explained that the organisation does not currently have substantial computing resource access but that using the cloud is core to its plans for the future.
“We don’t have a big machine room. We just wanted to get up and running so the question really was how we could use cloud computing to provide for the state-of-the-art research people are doing,” he said.
This work includes a project led by researcher Chris Russell that is attempting to capture vivid 3D models of real-life objects, specifically people’s faces.
“This sort of thing is incredibly difficult to do and requires substantial computing power, and we are quite convinced there will be a revolution in this kind of work,” he said.
Professor Blake said that the deal with Microsoft will allow researchers at the organisation to get their ideas live and tested far more quickly than before.
He also touched on the work at the Alan Turing Institute, claiming that the key aim is to deliver “research with impact” and bring together all manner of expertise around data science.
“Research excellence is at the heart of what we do, but it’s not enough just to invent new stuff. We need it to have an impact,” he said.
“We are prioritising the building of software engineering teams, as well as researchers and mathematicians, so that we can take these ideas and actually put out beautiful pieces of software that have an impact.”
Microsoft's decision to donate Azure access to an organisation working on cutting edge data science projects is unquestionably good publicity for the platform as it battles against Google and Amazon Web Services for cloud dominance.
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