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Procurement Innovation for Cloud Services in Europe

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PICSE (Procurement Innovation for Cloud Services in Europe)

Reporting period: 2014-10-01 to 2016-03-31

Cloud computing represents a paradigm shift in the way IT resources are provisioned for research communities. Traditionally the IT departments of research organisations have developed and operated in-house the services that their users required. But commercial cloud services are a disruptive technology with easy-to-use commodity services made available often on a ‘freemium’ basis to users at a global scale. The acquisition of IT services is a key function within any public or private organisation and the advent of cloud computing requires innovation in the way IT services are procured, from outright purchase to ‘pay-per-usage’ business models.

The Procurement Innovation for Cloud Services in Europe (PICSE) project builds on the results of the Helix Nebula – The Science Cloud 7th Framework Programme support action and Initiative that established a public-private partnership of cloud service providers, research organisations and publicly funded e-infrastructures. Helix Nebula tested existing procurement policies and found them to be inadequate to accommodate the on-demand model of cloud computing. In order to overcome these barriers, Helix Nebula proposed a set of tailored procurement processes that would satisfy the demand for computing power from the scientific community.

At a time when the European Cloud Strategy was materializing and several multinational procurement initiatives - including Pre-Commercial Procurement and Public Procurement of Innovative cloud solutions - started operating, PICSE aimed to engage with cloud service providers and procurement professionals to establish itself as a focal point to harmonise and share procurement practices.

The over-arching objective of PICSE was to set up a European Procurers' Platform that would enhance understanding of the issues involved in procuring cloud services, based on a set of procurement use cases from the public sector.

In particular, the specific objectives of PICSE were to:

 Develop a simpler and innovative procurement model for all public research organisations that can profit from an on-demand cloud services marketplace;
 Provide a set of best practices that support successful procurement activities;
 Set out a realistic roadmap for cloud procurement over the next five years;
 Lay durable foundations for future joint procurements to support a hybrid cloud model.
Building on the European Cloud Computing Strategy, which calls for a framework of standards to ensure procurers meet compliance obligations, PICSE engaged with procurers across the globe to find durable solutions to their procurement impediments.

To address these problems, PICSE identified key financial and legal constraints impacting cloud services adoption, and provided a range of best practices from both the public and private sectors, in and beyond Europe. These barriers and best practices have been described and analysed in the areas of policy and organisation, processes, staff, and tools.

PICSE has carried out extensive desktop research and has consulted with the main European public research organisations in order to identify the five main steps that characterize the process for procuring ICT services for the research sector. The result of this analysis has allowed PICSE to put together a set of cloud procurement models , which describe the procurement steps in a cloud environment.

Based on these models, PICSE documented and published a series of case studies on how public sector organisations worldwide have either carried out a process to procure cloud services, or are considering doing so. The experiences vary in terms of success and offer insights into how the procurement of cloud services is impacting their current processes.

Procurement checklists have been developed and form the basis of the PICSE Wizard, a web-based application that can be used by public research organisations to obtain guidelines on the most suitable model for procuring cloud services and for the self-assessment and evaluation of their procurement procedures. The PICSE Wizard has been conceived to support IT managers & procurers in charge of the procurement of cloud services in public research organisations and is available online at
PICSE calls for action to harmonise legislation, procurement rules, and European research agencies structuring in order to create a Digital Single Market through:
Competences and organisational culture
Enabling innovation in procurement and services
Stimulating the research cloud ecosystem
Adopting new business models
Validating the benefits
In order to ensure the sustainability of the action, PICSE set out a roadmap for future procurement actions with recommendations for key stakeholders, including public sector research organisations, cloud service providers and policy makers highlighting:
 Procurers need new competences to address the shift from purchasing systems for in-house deployment to negotiating and purchasing services.
 The supply-side also needs to address changes in the nature of its business, from providing bespoke or turn-key system solutions to managing deployment of the capacity needed to meet variable demand.
 The current environment made up of existing in-house resources, publicly funded e-infrastructure and commercial cloud services does not provide a seamless service.
 Existing organisational and financial models are no longer appropriate and barriers such as legal constraints are proving difficult to overcome.
The results of the PICSE project have been critically reviewed by an independent taskforce of experience practitioners drawn from the public and private sectors and have been widely distributed and promoted at events around Europe involving policy makers, public research organisations, research communities, publicly funded e-infrastructures and commercial cloud service providers.
Public sector organisations, cloud service providers and policy makers will benefit from the results of the PICSE support action, in so far as it identifies procurement barriers and subsequent best practices to overcome such barriers, and a set of proposed model procurement processes and tools to enhance procurement actions.
The PICSE support action is in line with the recommendations of the recent policy vision document “Establishing a Trusted Cloud Europe”, prepared for the European Commission by The European Cloud Partnership Steering Board. As highlighted in the report, a flexible common framework of best practices as well as guidelines at legal, technical and operational level are needed to achieve a trusted Digital Single Market for cloud services in Europe. This framework could only emerge from consensus-building with participation of cloud providers and cloud users, including citizens, businesses, SMEs and public administrations. To develop and sustain such vision, interesting prospects come from Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP) or Public Procurement of Innovation (PPI) as part of Specific Challenges from Horizon 2020 work programmes.

The procurement model and networking activities of PICSE have led to the formation of a joint Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP) for innovative cloud services by 10 public research organisations across Europe called HNSciCloud . HNSciCloud aims to execute a joint tender, for which it will apply a revised and agile procurement model, based on the initial research performed by PICSE, and verify its applicability on a European scale. The experience gained will be used to refine the procurement model which can establish a best practise for public sector procurements.
PICSE also provided a direct response to the European Cloud Partnership’s Trusted Cloud Europe scientific use case by addressing cross-border procurement in the framework of the EGI Engage Horizon 2020 project. EGI Engage is establishing the mechanisms for performing cross‐border procurements by ERICs with their member states, including Pre-commercial procurement (PCP)/Public-private partnerships (PPI) and EU structural funds.
PICSE Lessons Learned
The PICSE Wizard
The top 5 PICSE objectives