The New York Times reported earlier this month that the National Science Foundation and Microsoft reached an agreement that allows American researchers free access to Microsoft's cloud computing services.

Microsoft introduced Azure as a competitor to cloud computing systems developed by Amazon, Google, IBM and Yahoo. These systems provide companies with low-cost IT infrastructure and seemingly limitless capability. This is especially pressing for scientists as some methods can, according to the Times produce more than a terabyte of data in a minute.

Microsoft plans to makes the new service global when it is comfortable enough with its security protocol and ability to handle worldwide access. The primary component of the move is data storage. Scientists throughout the country will be able to share data and discuss experiments with each other more easily than ever before.

A similar venture undertaken by the National Cancer Institute was also announced earlier this month. The Cancer Bioinformatics Grid allows cancer researchers throughout the country to share data and comment on each other's experiments and research. The platform is highly customizable, allowing researchers to adjust security settings for specific data.ADNFCR-2553-ID-19641508-ADNFCR