With many scientists working in siloes, Europe’s fragmented research landscape means countless discoveries are not capitalised on and duplicate data is created. But, a €30 million project to deliver the underlying infrastructures for the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) has concluded with nine key services to ensure its future smooth running – meaning researchers will now find it easier to collaborate across disciplinary and geographical boundaries with services that support their scientific discovery.
A €30 million project to lay down the foundation for establishing EOSC as a federated infrastructure has concluded with nine key results to ensure its future smooth running, including technologies, services, policies and a service management system These key results provide scientists with a single entry point to dozens of different high-quality digital solutions, compute and data management and thematic services to create a portfolio of products through an integrated service catalogue and a comprehensive set of rules of participation to maintain safety and trust among users and the researchers making their data discoverable and accessible.
The move will enable researchers to tackle societal challenges and fundamental science quicker, like major diseases or climate change, by stimulating scientific research with better access to high-quality services and data that is findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (FAIR).
Among the services are a new Digital Innovation Hub (DIH) to help industrial R&D and academic research easily collaborate and access services, a series of advanced educational training courses and a clear set of governance to keep users of the cloud safe and accountable.
With collaboration from EGI, EUDAT and Indigo-DataCloud, the Horizon 2020 project developed its nine critical components to realize a ‘federated ecosystem based on data and other open science outputs, integrating many services such as data visualisation, analysis and physical resources to store and re-use data for open science’.
The new services in the project have already supported more than 20,000 researchers carrying out millions of operations and computational jobs monthly, as well as integrate the data and applications of 14 new research infrastructures while training 5,200 people. From a technical point of view, the project produced 18 interoperability guidelines, and integrated more than 80 service providers into the EOSC portfolio.
Additionally, the project supported COVID-19 international projects through thousands of molecular docking simulations runs that resulted in a huge increase in computational power collaboratively delivered by the EGI Federation and the Open Science Grid in the USA.
Called ‘EOSC-hub’, this 3-year project to establish the marketplace and working environment for research data and software exploitation, has not only established the compute and storage e-infrastructures, software and data services, but also delivered services for federated authentication and authorization, accounting, monitoring and support, and the system of processes and policies necessary for the management of the EOSC Core – taking us a step closer to a fully-fledged EOSC.
EOSC-hub project coordinator, Tiziana Ferrari said: “The EOSC-hub has laid the foundations and backbone of Europe’s Open Science Cloud, making enormous strides for tackling Europe’s fragmented research ecosystem.”
“Researchers now not only have secure space and a system to work in but also broader access to services supporting their scientific discovery and collaboration across disciplinary and geographical boundaries. They can be safe with our rules of participation when making their research discoverable and accessible. These rules have undergone extensive tests on prospective service providers and ensure that we maintain the trust for and from all potential users.”
EOSC-hub Project Director Per Öster also said, “The impact achieved by EOSC-hub was possible thanks to targeted support programmes for researchers and innovators all with the aim to put the researchers and the innovators in the driver’s seat: 8 competence centres that engaged major large research infrastructures, the EOSC Early Adopter Programme for research communities and the Digital Innovation Hub for SMEs and industry.”
Although the EOSC is designed with supporting Europe’s publicly funded science research in mind, a key result of the EOSC-hub is the newly formed Digital Innovation Hub (DIH), a platform that makes it easier for commercial companies to access EOSC’s digital technologies and services.
Supporting industrial R&D and academic research in accessing and sharing EOSC tools and services, the digital hub allows research e-Infrastructures to support businesses to stimulate growth and innovation, leading to a cross-collaboration between the public and private sectors and helps start-ups and SMEs to access knowledge and technical services.
“The ultimate goal is to create a one-stop-shop that brings IT services, research data, technology and expertise into a single place to support innovation in the industry. Long term, we can provide a formalisation of the knowledge and expertise into procedure descriptions, standardised consulting offerings or certification schemes,” Ferrari said.
Full Nine Results
The nine Key Exploitable Results of EOSC-hub are:
Portal and marketplace – the EOSC Portal provides the access to the EOSC and acts as a delivery channel connecting supply and demand sides of the EOSC and all its stakeholders, whereas the Marketplace acts as a gateway to the multitude of services and resources for researchers.
Service Management System – or EOSC’s IT service management system (ITSM), is the stable IT system piloted by EOSC-hub which allows service providers to plan, deliver, operate and control the hub’s services for future EOSC users.
Rules of Participation – are a comprehensive and coherent set of rules and policies for service providers to onboard services and make them discoverable and accessible through the EOSC Portal. Piloted and implemented via the EOSC Portal, the rules of participation make it easy to bring new service providers into the EOSC ecosystem while ensuring the quality and compliance of the overall services and building and maintaining the trust of the users and user communities.
Internal Services – provide the basic enabling services proposed for accessing and operating the EOSC. The common services are targeting adoption by the permanent EOSC services and include a Configuration Database (a central registry to record topology information about all the participating sites of an e-infrastructure), Accounting (storing user accounting records from various services offered by EGI, such as Cloud, HTC and storage usage), Argo Service Monitoring (keeping an eye on the performance of IT services and quickly detects and resolves any issues).
External Services - enable cross-disciplinary collaboration and speed up research processes thanks to the compute and data management capabilities and solutions of the EGI Federation, EUDAT CDI and Indigo DataCloud. Also, EOSC-hub has integrated many diverse services in the EOSC Service Portfolio to = improve the research process of the disciplines and enable cross-disciplinary collaboration and reuse of tools and results.
Business and Sustainability models – will keep the hub up and running for the foreseeable future. While crucial for the long-term planning of EOSC, these models also provide foundations for ensuring the trust of users and user communities in the continued delivery of services. They have been designed to increase flexibility, lower barriers of entry and reduce compliance costs in service provision and consumption by the EOSC stakeholders, and will be important inputs to EOSC sustainability planning.
Digital Innovation Hub – will make it easier for companies to access the digital technologies and services of EOSC. The EOSC DIH provides a clear interface for commercial innovation that can be supported by EOSC as part of the broader European Digital Innovation Hub landscape (such as free access trials). It is a multi-dimensional mechanism that allows research e-Infrastructures to support business organisations to stimulate innovation, as well as helping start-ups, SMEs, and other innovative actors to tap into the academic world both in accessing knowledge as well as technical services. The ultimate goal is to create a one-stop-shop that brings IT services, research data, technology and expertise into a single place to support innovation in the industry.
Guidelines – will define the architecture of EOSC’s functions. Interoperability and Integration Guidelines piloted the definition of the high-level architecture for basic EOSC technical functions and promoting EOSC standards and APIs. The result, if implemented in the EOSC, will facilitate access to services, lower barriers to integrating and composing services and promote the usage of services between adjacent communities.
Advanced Training Courses - Training Courses and Material provides training modules for scientists and scientific communities to form a ‘knowledge network’ to help researchers from different scientific disciplines better integrate advanced digital services. The courses are run to stimulate the knowledge transfer, foster the use of digital infrastructures and promote the uptake of Open Science on topics including Open Science, Data Management, the EOSC, Sharing & Discovery, Security & Operation and Storage.