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Microsoft funds datacentre and cloud energy efficiency research projects

Archana Venkatraman

Azure cloud provider Microsoft has awarded a total of $160,000 to four university projects focusing on cloud and datacentre energy efficiency.

The research will be funded by the Microsoft Research Award for the Software Engineering Innovation Foundation (SEIF).

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Each year, Microsoft issues a SIEF request for proposals to research teams across the world to support academic research in software engineering technologies, tools, practices and teaching methods. But this year, it expanded the scope to include applications related to datacentre innovation and energy efficiency.

“As Microsoft continues to find ways to transform the energy supply chain towards greater efficiency and reduced environmental impact, we have seen that driving innovation in energy often requires a close partnership between industry and academia,” said Sean James, senior research programme manager, Global Foundation Services, at Microsoft.

SIEF received more than 100 proposals for research grants in areas such as foundational software engineering, application of software engineering to the internet of things, and infrastructure for cloud-scale software.

The software giant selected 12 projects, each receiving a $40,000 grant to fund their research. Of these 12, four projects are dedicated to making cloud services and datacentre facilities more efficient and environmentally friendly.

“These grants will fund teams from four different universities to study innovations in all areas of datacentre operations, among other areas of software engineering and the internet of things,” said James. “The subject matter builds on our commitment to energy innovation and sustainability and we see the results of this research benefiting not only Microsoft, but the industry as a whole.”

Among the energy-efficiency project winners were Reinaldo Tonkoski and Wei Sun from South Dakota State University. Their research will focus on "Reliable and resilient microgrids for datacentres".

Another efficiency project receiving Microsoft funding was "Cool provision: Provisioning of cooling systems for datacentres” by Thu Nguyen from Rutgers University.

Carnegie Mellon University’s Onur Mutlu also received a $40,000 grant for his project, “Improving datacentre efficiency and total cost of ownership with differentiated software reliability analysis and techniques”.

The cloud efficiency research grant winner was Christoforos Kozyrakis from Stanford University, whose topic is Resource efficient cloud computing”.

Microsoft, just like Google, Apple and Facebook, regularly funds academia for research focusing on sustainability and efficiency for IT.

Just last month, Microsoft entered into a three-year agreement with the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) to research and develop distributed generation technologies.

It was part of Microsoft’s investment in next-generation energy technologies such as microturbines and distributed generation technologies to transform how its datacentres consume energy as it expands its datacentre infrastructure.


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