Microsoft's cloud system - Windows Azure - is being used in education more widely, and there are plenty of conversations going on about how educational partners can move their applications to be hosted on Windows Azure to reduce the cost of expanding their service (because you can just expand a service as your customer base grows without having to go and buy more servers, data centre space etc etc). The same logic applies to education institutions developing new services (especially where it can be tricky to deploy new technology on-site).

One question I'm often asked is: Is there an academic discount for Windows Azure?

And the short answer is: No, but…

And the 'but…' is that there are some current offers on Windows Azure that could save you a quarter on your cloud costs.

Normally, the cost savings made from moving services to the cloud are attractive enough when you calculate the differential between running a service in the cloud or on your own servers. But at the moment, it gets even more attractive because of the discounts available on Windows Azure.

In a nutshell, you can pre-purchase blocks of cloud services and get between 20% and 27%. And the minimum requirement is that your subscription is for at least $500AU a month, for a six month period.

Learn MoreFind more about the Windows Azure pre-purchase offer