The Australian carried an interesting story last week, that I have only just come across. It talks about the growth in the use of the Microsoft Cloud, and specifically the use of the Windows Azure Cloud computing system in Australia - quoting growth in customers ‘from a handful a year ago to several hundred’. What I liked about the article was that it specifically focused on the use of the Microsoft Cloud in education, quoting a researcher from Curtin University, who’s been using the Windows Azure cloud for genome sequencing.
In the past, researchers would have needed access to a big bank of high performance supercomputers to do the kind of projects which can now be delivered using the Cloud. What that means is a complete reduction in capital costs, and an ability to switch computing power on and off - keeping costs under close control, whilst giving researchers the power of a massive datacentre.