The enormous amount of data that scholars can generate now can easily overwhelm their desktops and university computing centers. Microsoft Corporation comes riding to the rescue with a new project called Daytona, unveiled at the Microsoft Research Faculty Summit on Monday. Essentially, it’s a tool—a free one—that connects these data to Microsoft’s giant data centers, and lets scholars run ready-made analytic programs on them. It puts the power of cloud computing at every scholar’s fingertips, says Tony Hey, corporate vice president of Microsoft Research Connections, as crunching “Big Data” becomes an essential part of research in health care, education, and the environment.
Researchers don’t need to know how to code for the cloud, for virtual machines, or to write their own software, Mr. Hey says. “What we do needs to be relevant to what academics want,” he says, and what they want is to spend time doing research and not writing computer programs. The idea grew out of academe, he adds, with roots in an open-source computing project led by Geoffrey Fox, a professor at Indiana University who directs the Digital Science Center there.