Bioscience “BLAST” to the Windows Azure Cloud


Today at the Supercomputing (SC) 2010 conference, Microsoft Corp. announced the release of NCBI BLAST on Windows Azure. The new application enables a broader community of scientists to combine desktop resources with the power of cloud computing for critical biological research. At the conference, Microsoft showcased the enormous scale of the application on Windows Azure, demonstrating its use for 100 billion comparisons of protein sequences in a database managed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).

Researchers in bioinformatics, energy, drug research and many other fields use the Basic Local Alignment Search Tool (BLAST) to sift through large databases, to help identify new animal species, improve drug effectiveness and produce biofuels, and for other purposes. NCBI BLAST on Windows Azure provides a user-friendly Web interface and access to Windows Azure cloud computing for very large BLAST computations, as well as smaller-scale operations. The application will allow scientists to use and collaborate with their private data collections, as well as data hosted on Windows Azure, including NCBI public protein data collections and the results of Microsoft’s large protein comparison.

Announcements at Supercomputing 2010 conference highlight Microsoft’s efforts to bring technical computing to the mainstream. The NCBI BLAST on Windows Azure software is available from Microsoft at no cost, and Windows Azure resources are available at no charge to many researchers through Microsoft’s Global Cloud Research Engagement Initiative. More information is available at http://research.microsoft.com/azure and you can get more info at Microsoft Press pass also.

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