Microsoft this week announced a set of tools for its Windows Azure public cloud computing platform meant to simplify programming the environment to process large data sets for scientists.
Dubbed "Project Daytona," Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) toolset is meant to free scientists to focus more on their research and less on the computing technologies they use to do it.
"Daytona gives scientists more ways to use the cloud without being tied to one computer or needing detailed knowledge of cloud programming — ultimately letting scientists be scientists," Dan Reed, corporate vice president of the Technology Policy Group at Microsoft, said in a statement.
The announcement came during the Microsoft Research Faculty Summit 2011, an annual event aimed at enabling Microsoft researchers to discuss computing trends with scientists, academics, educators and government officials.
"[Daytona] is designed to run a wide class of analytics and machine-learning algorithms on Windows Azure to allow scientists to analyze their largest data collections," the statement said.
Windows Azure is Microsoft's public cloud infrastructure, which the company launched commercially a year and a half ago.
Ever since its beginnings, however, Microsoft has given special low- or no-cost access to Windows Azure to scientists and academics.
According to a Microsoft Research statement, Daytona is an "iterative MapReduce runtime for Windows Azure," which the group developed based on the MapReduce distributed computing framework.
"Project Daytona will automatically deploy the iterative MapReduce runtime to all of the Windows Azure virtual machines (VMs) in the deployment, sub-dividing the data into smaller chunks so that they can be processed (the 'map' function of the algorithm) in parallel. Eventually, it recombines the processed data into the final solution (the 'reduce' function of the algorithm)," the statement said.
"Windows Azure storage serves as the source for the data that is being analyzed and as the output destination for the end results," it added.
Project Daytona can scale out to hundreds of server cores for analysis of distributed data, according to the statement.
Microsoft Research released Daytona as a "research technology preview," or RTP, and continues to work on the project to provide new features and optimizations.