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Optics for the Cloud Research Alliance

Microsoft Research Cambridge has brought together its Optics for the Cloud collaborations with several university research groups in Europe and the US to create the Optics for the Cloud Research Alliance. This Alliance investigates and develops optical technologies for the cloud. The Alliance takes a multi-disciplinary approach to tackle big and open challenges, with an aim to enable greater adoption of optical technologies in cloud infrastructure, including cloud storage, network, and compute.

The research spans a significant part of the cloud infrastructure ecosystem, ranging from photonics fabrication, via optical system and sub-system design, to co-design and integration with the rest of the data centre stack. The Alliance provides a vibrant collaborative research environment, involving experts across optical and cloud research disciplines, with an open publications policy. The Alliance funds a cohort of PhD scholars. The three-year PhDs target long-term problems and aim to advance the state of the art through forward-looking fundamental research that is being published in top technical venues. Each PhD student is hosted and supervised by a university faculty member and co-supervised by a Microsoft researcher. The students also benefit from discussion, insights, and feedback from practitioners at Microsoft and, more broadly, through greater interaction with partners in industry and academia.

Goals of the Research Alliance

The primary goals of the alliance are to:

  • Leverage and enable true cross-disciplinary research
  • Support high-impact pre-competitive research
  • Aspire to generate disruptive, not sustaining, ideas

The secondary goals are to:

  • Help to expand the ecosystem
  • Communicate the value of optics and photonics research in UK and Europe
  • Send a message that we view our members as world leaders in this space

Members of the Research Alliance