Amazon to offer free cloud services to academics

The company will annually grant $1 million worth of use of its hosted computing services

Amazon is inviting students, educators and researchers to apply for grants that will give them free access to the company's hosted computing services.

The company expects to dole out up to US$1 million per year worth of services, depending on the quality of the applications, it said.

Amazon has already made the offer to a few universities. Last year, 300 students in Harvard's introductory computer science course used Amazon Web Services to learn firsthand about virtualization, scalability and multi-core processing, according to David J. Malan, lecturer on computer science at Harvard University.

Instructors like Malan can apply for teaching grants that will supply $100 in AWS usage credits per eligible student. The application can be submitted online.

Amazon services available to people applying for the teaching grants include the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, Simple Storage Service, SimpleDB database service, Amazon Simple Queue Service, the CloudFront content delivery service, and Elastic MapReduce for processing large amounts of data.

Amazon is also inviting researchers to apply to use the services. The company will consider proposals on a quarterly basis, looking for the uniqueness and usefulness of the project, use of AWS in the project and the potential to attract matching funds from other groups.

The University of Oxford's Malaria Atlas Project has already been using AWS in its effort to create global maps of malaria as part of the offer.

Students can also apply directly for free usage of AWS. They can ask for access in order to complete coursework or for individual projects, Amazon said.

Applicants must be affiliated with accredited universities.

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