Microsoft has partnered with the University of Washington’s Baker Laboratory, biology labs, to give scientists access to some high-caliber computing power. That, in turn, helps them explore and understand proteins, which could eventually lead to thwarting everything from Alzheimer’s to Malaria, and from cancer to salmonella.
“To deploy and test the lab’s software on Windows Azure, Eiben enlisted the help of his Microsoft IT colleagues Pankaj Arora and Chris Sinco. The two architected, tested and helped scale out a solution. Because the lab was behind one firewall and Microsoft another, Arora even set up a server under the bed in his home to create and test the Azure deployment,” revealed Microsoft.
“Biologists, especially those studying protein folding, have started to embrace an Internet-based public volunteer computing where people from around the world download software and allow the researcher to tap into their computing resources to help power experiments. It’s a similar model to the one used in exploring another next frontier, the project Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI).”
“Normally, this work would be shared by thousands of private machines owned by people who had donated computing time,” Eiben said. “Among these thousands, someone in Helsinki might offer time, and someone in Sao Paulo, but with Azure Nikolas can get his results much faster and more reliably — you know, the person in Helsinki may shut his or her machine off and go on vacation for three weeks.”
“Nikolas Sgourakiss” “benchmark” Azure experiment used 2.5 million calculations to essentially check the algorithms and process that he’ll use. He said the experiment — which used the equivalent of 2,000 computers running for just under a week — was a success. Everything checked out. The second test, the one to compute properties of the salmonella “needle,” runs this week and will take a similar number of computations,” the software company added.