Microsoft is a company standing at the beginning of a fork in the road. On one side of the company is their traditional money maker services, Office and Windows, which they are frantically reinventing. On the other side of the company is their future earners in Azure and cloud-connected services tethered to mobile. As of right now, Microsoft is attempting to run down one road while keeping an eye on the other. Windows and Office are still big draws for them, but the company is also picking up steam with collaborations, partnerships and certifications with Azure.
Today, Microsoft is announcing yet another collaboration that takes advantage of its big data hosting services. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will be working with Microsoft Azure Government to become the anchor in the participation of a project called Cooperative Research & Development Agreement (CRADA). In this project, Microsoft’s cloud platform is set to host a collection of NOAA datasets. Azure for Government will be home to the Global Forecast System, Global Ensemble Forecast System, and Climate Forecast System. As NOAA’s mission to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment continue, the organization pulls in more than 20 terabytes of information every day. That’s right, 20 terabytes a day. Unfortunately, that amount of data can only be accessed in incremental percentages due to previous storage and accessibility constraints. With the backing of Microsoft Azure for Government, NOAA can access features like sophisticated predictive cloud computing as well as network and storage enhancements. These features are not limited to NOAA only; the vast amount of information collected can now be available to governments, businesses, and the public.
The idea behind NOAA CRADA is to allow massive amounts of data collected from NOAA to be accessible to various segments of government and private industries. This level of accessibility is the trade for those industries to improve applications and development of solutions that benefit citizens and consumers. With big data and complex computations at their fingertips, agencies like state healthcare can better predict infectious disease spreads and trends while also developing and deploying new preventative measures based on predictions.
Ultimately this collaboration is about innovation through access. Now researchers and partners will have access to massive amounts of data as well as the computing ability of Azure to help expedite real world solutions. The Azure team will also be extending this sort of collaboration to more researchers through the active request from their Azure for Research Program. While the future of Windows 10 for PC and phones, at the moment, is a question mark, it seems that Azure is nestling its way into a stable future.