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Federation for FIRE Plus

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - Fed4FIREplus (Federation for FIRE Plus)

Reporting period: 2020-01-01 to 2021-12-31

Our society is undoubtedly rapidly evolving towards a fully digital society and while a few years ago, when the Fed4FIRE- and Fed4FIRE+ project were concepted, that this society would evolve on the basis of a “Future Internet”, this has gradually changed into a completely Next Generation Internet. This change in labelling is significant as it stresses the fact that we are not just working on an evolving internet, but bridging a generation step by implementing completely new concepts, ideas, tools, features, … This change goes in parallel with the emergence of 5G, (I)IoT, Cloud computing, Edge computing ,.. and many other new concepts.
These changes and new technologies which are getting embedded in our new society, the communication networks and the internet, are very complex and rely on a heterogeneity of technologies never seen or experienced before. Research on these new concepts and aspects of our Next Generation Internet, developing tools, techniques and applications as well as testing cannot be carried out without experimentation.
Existing federation efforts, prior to the start of this project, such as Fed4FIRE, XIFI, IoT Lab, OneLab, etc., brought together heterogeneous facilities and made them accessible through common frameworks and tools, thus supporting a broad range of experimenter communities covering a wide variety of Internet infrastructures, services and applications.
The heterogeneity of the federated testbeds, as well as the near-real environment in which experimenters can develop and test their applications and techniques have proven to be very useful during the course of the FP7 Fed4FIRE federation project (running from 01/10/2013 till 30/09/2016). This project has developed a common federation framework that is widely adopted by different experimentation facilities and used by different experimentation communities within academia and industry. Powerful support is provided for the whole experiment lifecycle, covering tools and interfaces for discovery and reservation of resources, experiment control, measurements, monitoring, identity management, access control, accountability and SLA management.
The Fed4FIRE+ project has continued since its start on 01/01/2017 on this legacy as the top Internet and Network-related experimentation federation at this moment. Several players and stakeholders have already stressed the huge positive impact Fed4FIRE has made on the landscape and the fact that Fed4FIRE has become a reference point in the community, within as well as outside EU. Since the start, through the mechanism of Open Calls and Cascade Granting, the project has already received about 400 proposals for experiments, out of which more than 150 have been selected for funding. More than half of these are newcomers to Fed4FIRE+, experimenters who have never been in contact either with Fed4FIRE or Fed4FIRE+. Some of these newcomers originate from parties who have been participated in other NGI projects so work out some basic concepts and use Fed4FIRE+ facilities to further explore possibilities and testing.
The Fed4FIRE+ project also looks beyond the end of the project and has incorporated a set of specific tasks and deliverables to investigate the operation of a federation and the sustainability. These activities have resulted in the SLICES initiative in the area of European Research Infrastructures.
The activities in the Fed4FIRE-project are grouped in 3 major cycles: the Innovation Cycle, the Business Cycle and the Experiment Cycle (Figure 1). Centrally placed are the activities on the Federator (covered by WP2) which takes care of running the actual federation.
The aim of the Federator (WP2) is to operate and manage the federation, through the support, as primary stakeholders, of the testbeds.
With respect to the Innovation Cycle, the activities are aimed at filling in the technical missing gaps to improve the performance, the user-friendliness as well as the technical capabilities of the existing Fed4FIRE federation and tools. Most of the improvements were triggered by comments made by the experimenters carrying out experiments in the framework of the Open Calls. During the last reporting period (01/01/2020 - 31/12/2021) the testbeds reported very specific actions taken on improvemnets and additons to teh facilities triggered by 50% of the Open Call experiments.
With respect to the Business Cycle, the initial framework for the one-stop-shop was developed and published. The objective is to create an open market‐ place for customers of testing services by brokering across federated testbed resources (from different providers) as well as human / expert resources allowing for on‐demand booking of testing and experimentation resources and services.
With respect to the Experiment Cycle since the start of the project, 9 standard Fed4FIRE+ open calls have been defined and implemented. One of the initial open calls was dedicated to SME experimenters and based on this experience, Fed4FIRE+ now runs a new and more innovative concept of a continouos Open Call limited in participation to SMEs. Altogether 383 proposals have been received of which 153 were funded. (Figure 2).
The impact of Fed4FIRE+ can be seen on different levels. There is of course the direct impact of the project on the experimenters as they are the most obvious stakeholders for the project. There is however also an impact on the testbeds and the partners running the testbeds. The project and the use of the testbeds provides feedback, comments and new requirements for the testbeds to be kept updated and at the top level.
Besides these 2 groups of stakeholders, the project also has an impact on the other H2020-research projects in the area of NGI and related fields and consequently also on the workprogram itself. Since 01/06/2021 the Open Calls for SME's was also opened to parties who had participated in OpenCalls from other NGI-projects and in total 7 out of the 13 proposals received used Fed4FIRE+ to furhter work and elaborate on the project they had run in another NGI-project.

The impact is illustrated through the geographical spreading (Figure 3), type of organization involved, impact on the business (Figure 4) of the experimenter, but also on the Fed4FIRE+ testbeds. By collecting feedback on running and operating the testbed, attracting new projects and contacts with stakeholders (Figure 5), testbeds improve their business. Fed4FIRE+ also has an impact on other research projects as some of the facilities are used within those projects or are cosely linked to other organisations worldwide.

Figure 6 illustrates the impact as a federation of testbeds. The different testbeds represented on the outer circle are linked with other testbeds in experiments using 2 testbeds (yellow dots), 3 testbeds (pruple dots) or 4 testbeds (green dots). The fact that experiments link different testbeds, but also testbeds offereing very different technologies shows the added value of the federation towards the community.
Figure 1 - Organisation of the Fed4FIRE+ project
Figure 5 - Impact on Testbeds
Figure 4 - Impact on business evaluated by experimenters
Figure 3 - Geographical spreading of Open Call experiments
Figure 6 - Use of multiple testbeds in the federation
Figure 2 - Total number of Proposals submitted (left) - accepted (right)