The biggest names in the ICT industry have come together to offer a range of services in an open standards-based framework addressing European data privacy concerns on a large-scale.
By showing how cloud computing can help solve some of societies biggest challenges, the European cloud-based scientific e-infrastructure will open the way for public organisations to profit from commercial cloud services.
The initiative is called Helix Nebula – the Science Cloud, named after the large planetary nebula sometimes referred to as the Eye of God. Its goal is to ignite the European market for cloud computing services as proposed in a strategic plan and deployment started in January 2012.
Helix Nebula – the Science Cloud creates a pan-European partnership across academia and industry, enabling innovation for science and creating new commercial markets.
Initially, three flagship use cases are being developed to demonstrate the impact Helix Nebula – the Science Cloud will have on science, allowing for experimentation and testing while scaling-up the cloud infrastructure.
First, CERN, the European laboratory for particle physics, will have access to more computing power to process data from the ATLAS experiment at its Large Hadron Collider accelerator.
CERNs computing capacity needs to keep-up with the data coming from the Large Hadron Collider and we see Helix Nebula – the Science Cloud as a great way of working with industry to meet this challenge, said Frdric Hemmer, head of CERNs IT department.
Second, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) is setting up a new service to simplify the analysis of large genomes, such as those from mammals, allowing a deeper insight into evolution and biodiversity across a range of organisms.
The quantities of genomic sequence data are vast and the needs for high performance computing infrastructures and bioinformatics expertise to analyse these data pose a challenge for many laboratories. EMBLs novel cloud-based whole-genome-assembly and annotation pipeline involves expertise from the Genomics Core facility in Germany, EMBL-EBIs institute at the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus in Cambridge UK, and EMBL Heidelberg’s IT Services. It will help scientists, inside and outside EMBL, to overcome these hurdles and provision the right infrastructure on demand, said Rupert Lueck, head of IT services at EMBL.
Third, the European Space Agency (ESA), in partnership with the Centre National dEtudes Spatiales (CNES) in France, and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) is collaborating with the National Research Council (CNR) in Italy, to create an Earth observation platform focusing on earthquake and volcano research.
This undertaking is done in the framework of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), a voluntary partnership of governments and international organisations. Volker Liebig, ESA Director for Earth observation programmes, said, Helix Nebula – the Science Cloud is a partnership with the potential to support an utmost exploitation of ESA satellite data, as well as to bring other communities on board to better understand the geophysical phenomena of our planet.
All three flagship applications will be deployed during a 2 year pilot phase. The commercial partners are Atos, Capgemini, CloudSigma, Interoute, Logica, Orange Business Services, SAP, SixSq, Telefonica, Terradue, Thales, The Server Labs and T Systems, along with the Cloud Security Alliance, the OpenNebula Project and the European Grid Infrastructure (EGI.eu). They will all work together to establish a federated and secure high-performance computing cloud platform.
This pilot stage represents a crucial proof of concept between big science and industry. Addressing the legal and policy constraints for the management of scientific data by commercial partners will lead to a sustainable European digital cloud market.
Helix Nebula – the Science Cloud supports Europes Digital Agenda as outlined by European Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes during her speech about setting up a European Cloud Partnership to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January 2012. She said, it is a true win-win: the Cloud market will grow, bringing opportunities for existing suppliers and new entrants. And Cloud buyers, including the public sector, will buy more with less and become more efficient.