The use of commercial cloud services has gained popularity in research environments. Not only it is a flexible solution for adapting computing capacity to the researchers' needs, it also provides access to the newest functionalities on the market. In addition, most service providers offer cloud credits, enabling researchers to explore innovative architectures before procuring them at scale. Yet, the economical and contractual aspects linked to the production use of commercial clouds are often overlooked, preventing researchers to reap their full benefits.
CERN, in collaboration with leading European research institutes, has launched several initiatives to bridge this gap. Completed in 2018, the HNSciCloud Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP) project successfully developed a European hybrid cloud platform to pioneer the convergence and deployment of commercial cloud, high-performance computing and big-data capabilities for scientific research. Leveraging many of the lessons learned from HNSciCloud, the OCRE project - Open Clouds for Research Environments - started in January 2019 in order to accelerate commercial cloud adoption in the European research community. In parallel, the ARCHIVER PCP project - Archiving and Preservation for Research Environments - will develop hybrid and scalable solutions for archiving and long-term preservation of scientific data whilst ensuring that research groups retain stewardship of their datasets.
With a total procurement budget exceeding €18 million, these initiatives are setting best practices for effective and sustainable procurement of commercial cloud services for research activities. These are highly relevant as, in the wider context of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), the engagement of commercial providers is considered fundamental to contribute to the creation of a sustainable, technologically advanced environment with open services for data management, analysis and re-use across disciplines, with transparent costing models.
In this contribution, we will detail the outcomes of the HNSciCloud PCP project, expand on the objectives of the subsequent OCRE and ARCHIVER projects and provide a vision for the role of the private sector within the EOSC.
|Consider for promotion||Yes|