FAQ About Microsoft Azure for Research Awards

FAQ about the Windows Azure for Research Award proposal processFind answers to frequently asked questions about the Microsoft Azure for Research award program and the proposal submission process.

What are the two Microsoft Azure for Research Award programs?

  • The regular bi-monthly award program solicits proposals on any topic that can use the capability of Microsoft Azure for research purposes.
  • The special-opportunity award program is designed to solicit proposals related to specific cloud-based research topics.

When are proposals due for each program?

  • The regular bi-monthly program has a due date of the fifteenth of the month on even numbered months (such as October 15, December 15, February 15, and so forth).
  • Proposal due dates will vary for the special-opportunity award program. We will announce those dates in our blog and on the Award program page.

See proposal submission deadlines

How is the submission process different for the two award programs?
The same submission process is used by each program. The only difference is that the title of your proposal for the special-opportunity award program must begin with a key word or phrase to help us identify it. This key word will be identified in the award announcement on the Award program page.

What is a Microsoft account (Windows Live ID)?
Your Microsoft account (previously called Windows Live ID) is the combination of an email address and a password that you use to sign in to services like Hotmail, Messenger, SkyDrive, Windows Phone, Xbox LIVE, or Outlook.com. If you don’t have a Microsoft account, it is easy to create one—and it's free. You can even create a Microsoft account that can be used by your entire research team to access your Microsoft Azure resources.

I am a student. Do I qualify for a Microsoft Azure for Research award?
The awards are for research projects. Faculty, research staff members, graduate students, and postdocs are qualified to submit proposals. Undergraduate students require a faculty supervisor.

I am teaching a class that will use Microsoft Azure for class projects. Do I qualify?
Yes, but there is a different program for teachers.

What does a good proposal look like?

  1. It should be no longer than three pages.
  2. Your proposal should describe the research problem you are working on and why it is important.
  3. You should describe how you will use Microsoft Azure. Include resource requirement estimates (number of core, storage requirements, and so forth) for your project.

    For example, how big is the data collection you will use or generate? How many CPU cores will you need to do the computational part?
    • The size of the awards is large. A request for 20 TB of storage and 200,000 hours of compute time is reasonable.
    • A request for 1 GB of storage and 20 hours of compute time is too small for an award.
    • On the other end, a request for 1,000 simultaneous servers may be too hard to satisfy.

You do not need to include a CV, previous results, grants, or bibliographic items in your proposal and no special formatting is required. (If you are completely unfamiliar with cloud computing and Microsoft Azure, we recommend that you sign up for one of our training courses.)

What sort of projects are you looking for?
We are looking for projects that will advance the state of research by using Microsoft Azure. These projects may be individual scientific investigations or activities that support a research discipline by hosting data and data access and analysis services. We are excited by original ideas. We are thrilled by projects that make cloud-based open source tools available to the community.

What are things to avoid in my proposal?
We are not interested in benchmarking exercises or porting communication intensive MPI applications from a supercomputer to the cloud.

Will you limit awards to one per university?
Not at all. Some universities may generate many good proposals that will be funded.

I work for a start-up that came from a university project. Do I qualify?
No. But you qualify for the BizSpark program.

I work for a non-profit research lab. Do I qualify?
Yes. If you are uncertain about your qualifications, send email to azurerfp@microsoft.com.