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e-Infrastructure Commons should connect the supercomputing, Big Data, networking and HPC islands in Europe

According to an article published on Primeur weekly magazine, at the e-IRG Conference in Vilnius earlier this month, e-IRG Board member Arjen van Rijn introduced the e-Infrastructure Commons concept from the e-IRG White Paper. The idea is that e-infrastructures that serve science in Europe will design a set of Common Services that makes them interoperable. The advantage of the European scientist is that they do not have to learn and apply for and access different infrastructures. But of course, collaboration between the independent infrastructures is needed. Currently there are different organisations covering different e-Infrastructure areas, such as Geant for networking, PRACE for superercomputing, EGI for HPC, IDGF for volunteer crowd computing, EUDat for Big Data.

Arjen van Rijn sees, however, some barriers and limitations on the way. On a national level, e-Infrastrcutures evolved over time in different ways. Often there are separate organisations for computing, networking, and other e-Infrastructures. On a European level, there are multiple organisations and projects active.

So one of the issues he sees is insufficient co-ordination and integration of existing e-Infrastructure services. There are also legal issues as a result of disparate legal frameworks in different countries, including limitations on the use of scientific e-Infrastructures by industry. On the other hand it is difficult for commercial companies to provide parts of the e-Infrastructures.

So the approach presented by Arjen van Rijn is to establish an e-Infrastructure Commons through a joint strategic effort between users and primary strategic actors and suppliers, to attain an ecosystem in which providers have the freedom to innovate and users enjoy the freedom to choose the services they need from a mix of public e-Infrastructure and commercial services.

However, Arjen van Rijn said, this cannot be achieved without a clear separation of roles for Community building, service provision; and innovation. Community building needs to be done for high-level strategy and co-ordination in Europe; for each type of e-Infrastructure service, and a single co-ordinating organisation with a central role for user communities is required.

Service provision needs to be flexible, open, and with competitive approach to national, European, and global service provision, with collaboration among the interested public and commercial service providers.

Innovation is best done through major projects in the best consortia including e-Infrastructure suppliers, industry, users and academia.

Arjen van Rijn sees the need for an e-Infrastructure umbrella forum for community building, high-level strategy setting and co-ordination for the entire e-Infrastructure, where user communities and strategy and co-ordination bodies for the different parts of the European e-Infrastructure work together on a common strategy and address common issues, including:
•increasing the visibility of e-Infrastructures;
•making e-Infrastructures relevant to a wider user base;
•resolving the Digital (e-Infrastructure) Divide;
•eliminating legal and political roadblocks for exploitation and innovation of e-Infrastructures;
•promoting the use of sustainable business models for e-Infrastructures;
•promoting effective structures for governance and finance giving users of all sizes a suitable role;
•enabling standardisation for delivery of end-to-end services across multiple domains and resource types; - enabling the development of uniform, federated authentication and authorisation mechanisms.

Read more on Primeur weekly magazine

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EuropeLogo eInfastructure This project has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 313203
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