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European Commission to create €6.7bn continent-wide cloud for scientists

The European Commission hopes initiative will pave the way for greater collaboration between European research teams

The European Commission (EC) wants to create a €6.7bn cloud environment for use by the continent’s science and technology community, as the organisation’s Digital Single Market plans gather pace.

The European Open Science Cloud is being designed with the big data needs of the science community in mind, and will address the challenges its members face when forced to rely on “insufficient and fragmented” infrastructure, the EC said.

The aim of the proposed cloud environment is to knit together the existing infrastructure researchers use, while providing Europe’s 1.7 million researchers and 70 million science and technology professionals with access to high-bandwidth networks, large-scale storage and additional compute capacity.

The EC said it expects the environment to be opened up to a wider selection of European cloud users – including the public sector and private industry – to support its Digital Single Market strategy.

In line with this, the EC predicts the European Open Cloud will cost around $6.7bn to deploy, with around €4.7bn of this coming directly from private and public sector investors over the next five years.

The remaining €2bn will be provided by the Horizon 2020 fund, which was set up in 2013 to funnel investment in Europe towards IT entrepreneurs and research organisations.  

Carlos Moedas, commissioner for research, science and innovation, said the initiative will boost the efficiency and productivity of the European research community by providing its members with a safe environment where data can be securely shared.

“We listened to the scientific community’s plea for an infrastructure for Open Science and with this comprehensive plan we can get down to work. The benefits of open data for Europe’s science, economy and society will be enormous,” added Moedas.

Read more about the Digital Single Market

Digital economy commissioner Günther H. Oettinger said the overarching aim of the European Open Science Cloud is to ensure Europe is seen as a world leader in high-performance computing by 2020.

“We will also be looking into the potential of quantum technologies which hold the promise to solve computational problems beyond current supercomputers.”

Cloud is being increasingly seized on by the science and academic community to share data and resources, so the geographic and technological barriers to scientific discoveries can be lowered.

This is one of the core aims of the Intel-backed Collaborative Cancer Cloud (CCC) initiative, for example, and Geant’s previously announced infrastructure-as-a-service frameworks, which are designed for use by the European education community.

Read more on Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)