|Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella|
Microsoft ($MSFT) has taken a lead from its co-founder Bill Gates' philanthropic efforts. The computing giant is making its Azure cloud platform available to Ebola researchers who need help with the storage and analysis of data.
CEO Satya Nadella unveiled the commitment at a presentation attended by Reuters. "We're going to ... make available Azure computer power to the research community. In addition, we have some tools that Microsoft researchers built to be able to do vaccine discovery, so we want to take all of that and make it available," Nadella said.
Microsoft is inviting researchers affiliated with academic institutions to apply to access Azure. The Redmond, WA-based company will then allocate storage and computing resources from its network of data centers to suitable Ebola projects. Giving researchers access to storage and computing grunt that vastly exceeds their local systems could cut the time it takes to discover ways to control the virus.
Nadella mentioned the Ebola research program during a presentation to pitch Azure as a rival to cloud platforms from Amazon ($AMZN) and Google ($GOOG). As well as talking up the growth of Azure--which is reportedly adding 10,000 customers a week--Nadella said Microsoft has worked with Dell to create a version of Azure companies can install on their own data centers.
Microsoft first showed an interest in the cloud-in-a-box model back in 2010, but that project--known as Windows Azure Appliance--never came to fruition. Others are also pursuing the model. At the Bio-IT World Expo earlier this year, several companies showcased drug R&D technologies that straddled the local and cloud-computing environments.