Microsoft Extends Partnerships Across Europe to Boost Scientific Research Through Client Plus Cloud Technology
Oct. 27, 2010
VENUS-C consortium prepares to announce open call to European researchers, while Microsoft extends further cloud computing resources to France’s INRIA and University of Nottingham researchers in the U.K.

BRUSSELS — Oct. 27, 2010 — During a keynote address today at the Open Grid Forum, Dan Reed, corporate vice president, eXtreme Computing Group and Technology Strategy & Policy at Microsoft Corp., detailed three programs that will strengthen the capabilities of the European research community by providing scientific researchers across Europe with access to advanced client plus cloud computing resources and technical support as part of the company’s global cloud research engagement initiative launched earlier this year.

“Cloud computing can transform how research is conducted, allowing scientists around the world to explore and share rich, diverse multidisciplinary data sets with their own familiar desktop tools,” Reed said. “Through these grants and this global initiative, we seek to make simple yet powerful tools available that any researcher can use, empowering the research community broadly in new ways. Our goal is ultimately to accelerate global scientific exploration, discovery and results.”

Microsoft has initiated three partnerships in Europe — with Europe’s VENUS-C (Virtual Multidisciplinary EnviroNments USing Cloud Infrastructures) consortium, with France’s INRIA (National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control), and with the U.K.’s University of Nottingham Horizon Institute.

Microsoft is a major partner in and initiator of the VENUS-C consortium, a project co-funded by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme to deploy cloud computing services for researchers across Europe. The consortium will soon be announcing an open call to European researchers to use the new resource and to apply for funding to support experimentation.

VENUS-C is currently developing and deploying a cloud computing service for research and industry communities throughout Europe to demonstrate the feasibility and potential of a scientific cloud for Europe that is integrated with the existing European grid system. Microsoft’s contribution to the project is a substantial Windows Azure data and compute capability and teams of researchers, including one based at the European Microsoft Innovation Center in Germany.

VENUS-C aims to facilitate and empower stakeholders through deployment of more easy-to-use cloud services across a spectrum of user communities including biomedicine, civil engineering and data for science.

“The VENUS-C project is one of the first attempts to prove that clouds and European Research Grids can interoperate and to demonstrate the sustainability of the scientific clouds,” said Andrea Manieri, coordinator of VENUS-C. “We are proud to lead this consortium; Microsoft is the perfect partner to help make VENUS-C successful.”

In addition, Microsoft will expand its European partnerships with INRIA in France and the University of Nottingham Horizon project in the U.K., which is aimed at digital economy research. Both recipients will be provided with three years of free Windows Azure usage, which delivers on-demand compute and storage to host, scale and manage Web applications on the Internet through Microsoft datacenters. Microsoft researchers and developers will also work with each recipient to equip them with a set of common tools, applications and data collections that can be shared with the broad academic community and will also provide their expertise in research, science and cloud computing.

“We are excited that our neuroscience imaging project will have access to this cloud resource and the continued collaboration,” said Jean-Jacques Lévy, director of the Microsoft Research-INRIA Joint Centre, which was founded by INRIA, Microsoft and Microsoft Research Cambridge and pursues fundamental, long-term research in formal methods, software security and the application of computer science research to other sciences.

“The University of Nottingham is delighted to be partnering with Microsoft on the use of cloud computing within our Horizon program,” said Derek McAuley, director of Horizon. “Horizon is funded through the Research Councils U.K. Digital Economy program to investigate how new digital technologies can be designed that transform the way we live, work and play, factoring in the essential human elements of privacy and behavior, together with an understanding of the emerging business models. Cloud computing is one of these technical advances that is already transforming business, and there is much more to come.”

These partnerships, aimed at unlocking the collaborative potential of the cloud in Europe, demonstrate Microsoft’s commitment to helping Europe realize the full potential of the cloud, specifically in support of the EU’s 2020 goals for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. They also advance the goals of the recently announced Innovation Union, a strategy that carries the ambition to make the EU a world-class science base. They will also assist in strengthening the European Research Area.

Microsoft announced similar partnerships with the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the U.S. and the National Institute of Informatics (NII) in Japan earlier this year. With the addition of three new European grants, the company aims to continue its support of researchers and academics by extending the capabilities of powerful, easy-to-use PC, Web and mobile applications through cloud services. Ultimately, Microsoft seeks to broaden researcher capabilities, foster collaborative research communities and accelerate global scientific discovery for the benefit of all.

About VENUS-C

VENUS-C (Virtual multidisciplinary EnviroNments USing Cloud Infrastructures) is a pioneering project for the European Commission’s Framework Programme 7 that draws its strength from a joint co-operation bringing together industrial partners and scientific user communities to develop, test and deploy an industry-quality cloud computing service for Europe.

Its aim is to develop and deploy a cloud computing service for research and industry communities in Europe by offering an industrial-quality, service-oriented platform based on virtualization technologies facilitating a range of research fields through easy deployment of end-user services. The user communities involved are: bioinformatics, system biology, drug discovery, civil protection, civil engineering and digital libraries. Find more information here.

The following organizations are involved in the core VENUS-C project:

  • Project Coordinator: Engineering Ingegneria Informatica S.p.a. (ENG), Italy

  • Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC), Spain

  • Centre for Computational and Systems Biology (CoSBi), Italy

  • Collaboratorio, Italy

  • Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Italy

  • European Charter of Open Grid Forum, U.K.

  • European Microsoft Innovation Center (EMIC), Germany

  • Kungliga Tekniska Hoegskolan (KTH), Sweden

  • Microsoft Research Ltd. (MRL), U.K.

  • Microsoft Innovation Center, Greece

  • Technion, Israel

  • Universidad Politecnica de Valencia, Spain

  • University of the Aegean, Greece

  • University of Newcastle, U.K.

About INRIA

The French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA) is a public science and technology institution, under the supervision of the French Ministries of Research and Industry. INRIA employs 2,800 researchers, of which more than 1,000 are Ph.Ds. They work in more than 168 project teams of which the majority collaborate with other organisations, universities and higher education institutions.

About the University of Nottingham and the Horizon Institute

Horizon is a Research Institute at the University of Nottingham engaged in Digital Economy Research. This new venture represents an initial £40 million investment by Research Councils UK, the University of Nottingham and over 40 academic and industrial partners in both a Research Hub and Doctoral Training Centre within the RCUK Digital Economy programme.

Horizon will focus on the role of ‘always on, always with you’ ubiquitous computing technology in the Digital Economy. Building on the Digital Britain plan, Horizon will investigate the technical developments needed if electronic information is to be controlled, managed and harnessed — for example, to develop new products and services — for societal benefit. Find more information here.

About Microsoft Research

Founded in 1991, Microsoft Research is dedicated to conducting both basic and applied research in computer science and software engineering. Researchers focus on more than 55 areas of computing and collaborate with leading academic, government and industry researchers to advance the state of the art. Microsoft Research has expanded over the years to eight locations worldwide and a number of collaborative projects that bring together the best minds in computer science to advance a research agenda based on their unique talents and interests. Microsoft Research has locations in Redmond, Wash.; Cambridge, Mass.; Silicon Valley, Calif.; Cambridge, England; Beijing, China; and Bangalore, India, and also conducts research at the Cairo Microsoft Innovation Center in Egypt; European Microsoft Innovation Centre in Aachen, Germany; and the eXtreme Computing Group in Redmond. Microsoft Research collaborates openly with colleges and universities worldwide to enhance the teaching and learning experience, inspire technological innovation, and broadly advance the field of computer science. More information can be found at http://www.research.microsoft.com.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://www.microsoft.com/news. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://www.microsoft.com/news/contactpr.mspx.

Read More: