I ran across someone awhile ago that works with a nonprofit charity. The organization was seeking to move some of their IT infrastructure to the cloud. This person was wondering if Azure had any discounts or programs for charities, and it didn't appear there was any type of program when I looked. That was disappointing as many charities work hard to help those affected in some way, but budgets and money are always tight.
I wish I'd know at the time that Microsoft had announced a program that can help. They are donating $1 billion over five years to nonprofits and university researchers. Their goal is to reach 70,000 nonprofits and help them use IT to better serve their causes. This is part of the Microsoft Philanthropy segment of the company and it's a welcome change to me. I support Microsoft and use their software, but I also am glad to see them looking at more than profits and incorporating some social responsibility into their work.
I'm sure charities appreciate the assistance, though this isn't without some costs. Moving applications to the cloud can be expensive in terms of software development, and certainly there are ongoing costs. I'd like to think that the ability to scale resources to meet demand works better in the cloud, and certainly there are some software products Microsoft has that charities will find cheaper in the cloud over time.
The donations will also help many university projects, which I'm guessing will both gain insights from data analysis in the cloud, and hopefully also help Microsoft (and the rest of us) better understand what techniques for working with data work well and don't work well in the cloud. I know the Azure SQL Data Warehouse looks interesting to me, especially in terms of building a DW in a way that doesn't require large on premise investments. I'm hoping to get a chance to take some SSC data and experiment with it there in a limited basis, turning off the systems when I don't have time to work with them.
I'm glad to see Microsoft supporting nonprofit organizations, and I hope that I see more GiveCamps and other efforts from software professionals to likewise support organizations that are aligned with their own values.