European scientific community seeks support for €5.3m hybrid cloud build

Research organisations from across Europe want to build a hybrid cloud platform to support their HPC and big data projects

Plans are afoot to create a €5.3m hybrid cloud platform for use by scientific researchers across Europe, and provide them with access to a mix of big data and high-performance computing (HPC) capabilities.

The Helix Nebula – The Science Cloud (HNSciCloud) initiative intends to combine commercial cloud services, publicly funded infrastructures and participants’ own in-house IT resources to create the proposed hybrid cloud environment.

The project is backed by 10 European research organisations, including Cern and the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council, and seeks to address the challenges the scientific community face when building IT environments that can support the full lifecycle of their projects.

A pre-commercial procurement tender outlining details of the project has now gone live, and interested parties have until 19 September 2016 to submit their bids.

The document states the environment must be able to support a wide range of virtual machines and container configurations, offer identity and access management capabilities, and give participants access to a range of workload-specific purchasing and payment options.

The research organisations backing the project are expected to be the first beneficiaries of the platform, but the private sector will also require access to the research data contained inside it over time, in keeping with the aims of the European Commission’s Digital Single Market vision.

Günther H. Oettinger, commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, said the project will help contribute to the development of the European Cloud Initiative, which aims to make the sharing of scientific findings and research in the scientific community easier.

“The European Cloud Initiative will unlock the value of big data by providing world-class supercomputing capability, high-speed connectivity and leading-edge data and software services for science, industry and the public sector.”

Read more about the use of cloud computing in science

The use of cloud computing in the science community has been gathering steam in recent years, as research groups turn to off-premise environments to aid data-sharing and collaboration on projects across long distances.

Speaking to Computer Weekly at the recent Amazon Web Services (AWS) Summit in London, Brendan Bouffler, manager of global scientific computing at AWS, said cloud has turned the economics of carrying out scientific research on its head.

“The big thing is that if we use cloud to help minimise the amount of money and time [scientists] spend on infrastructure, they could spend more money on scientists,” he said.

“When you’re talking about how to accelerate the rate at which scientific progress is made, that’s one of the best ways to do it.” ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...

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