The European Commission has presented its plan relating to cloud-hosted services, as well as the infrastructure plan for large amounts of scientific and business data to be available worldwide on the cloud.
Europe is the largest producer of scientific data in the world, but the current infrastructures make it hard to make the most of all of this information. This is why the Commission has decided to reinforce and connect current investigation infrastructures to create a new “European Cloud for Open Science”, which will offer 1.7 million researchers and 70 million scientific professionals the chance to work in a virtual environment where they can store, share and reuse their information for different fields and disciplines, without borders.
This cloud service will be based on the current European setup, with large broadband services connecting different storage mechanisms on a wider scale, as well as improving computing resources to access all of this data and manage it. This will allow Europe to enter the race for better computing, as well as improving its information gathering and economic potential.
Based initially around scientific research, this offer will eventually extend to other users in the public and industrial sectors. This incentive is only a fraction of a series of measures that are aimed at creating a wide and free market, increasing competitiveness and allowing information to be more available and transparent.
The European Cloud Initiative will make it easier for researchers and innovators to access and re-use data, and will reduce the cost of data storage and high-performance analysis. Making research data openly available can help boost Europe’s competitiveness by benefiting start-ups, SMEs and data-driven innovation, including in the fields of medicine and public health. It can even spur new industries, as demonstrated by the Human Genome Project.
The Commission will progressively put in place the European Cloud Initiative through a series of actions, including:
- As of 2016: creating a European Open Science Cloud for European researchers and their global scientific collaborators by integrating and consolidating e-infrastructure platforms, federating existing scientific clouds and research infrastructures, and supporting the development of cloud-based services.
- 2017: opening up by default all scientific data produced by future projects under the €77 billion Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, to ensure that the scientific community can re-use the enormous amount of data they generate.
- 2018: launching a flagship-type initiative to accelerate the nascent development of quantum technology, which is the basis for the next generation of supercomputers.
- By 2020: developing and deploying a large scale European high performance computing, data storage and network infrastructure, including by acquiring two prototype next-generation supercomputers of which one would rank among the top three in the world, establishing a European big data center, and upgrading the backbone network for research and innovation (GEANT).
In addition to the European research community, the European Open Science Cloud and the European Data Infrastructure will be accessible and bring benefits for a host of other users:
- Businesses will have cost-effective and easy access to top level data and computing infrastructure, as well as a wealth of scientific data enabling data-driven innovation. This will particularly benefit SMEs, which typically lack access to such resources.
- Industry will benefit from the creation of a large-scale cloud eco-system, supporting the development of new European technologies such as low-power chips for high performance computing.
- Public services will benefit from reliable access to powerful computing resources and the creation of a platform to open their data and services, which can lead to cheaper, better and faster interconnected public services. Researchers will also benefit from online access to the wealth of data created by public services.
The public and private investment needed to implement the European Cloud Initiative is estimated at €6.7 billion. The Commission estimates that, overall, €2 billion in Horizon 2020 funding will be allocated to the European Cloud initiative. The estimation of the required additional public and private investment is €4.7 billion in the period of 5 years.