We discuss the applicability of the Microsoft cloud computing platform, Azure, for bioinformatics. We focus on the usability of the resource rather than its performance. We provide an example of how R can be used on Azure to analyse a large amount of microarray expression data deposited at the public database ArrayExpress. We provide a walk through to demonstrate explicitly how Azure can be used to perform these analyses in Appendix S1 and we offer a comparison with a local computation. We note that the use of the Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering of Azure can represent a steep learning curve for bioinformatics developers who will usually have a Linux and scripting language background. On the other hand, the presence of an additional set of libraries makes it easier to deploy software in a parallel (scalable) fashion and explicitly manage such a production run with only a few hundred lines of code, most of which can be incorporated from a template. We propose that this environment is best suited for running stable bioinformatics software by users not involved with its development. © 2014 Shanahan et al.
Shanahan, H. P., Owen, A. M., & Harrison, A. P. (2014). Bioinformatics on the cloud computing platform Azure. PLoS ONE, 9(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0102642