Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

Access to Commercial Services Through the EOSC-hub

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - OCRE (Access to Commercial Services Through the EOSC-hub)

Période du rapport: 2019-01-01 au 2020-06-30

The Open Clouds for Research Environments project (OCRE) has two primary ambitions:
• To make commercial cloud and digital services available to the broader European research community with the intention to drive agility across research-related tasks and activities, and improve research outcomes. This will be achieved through a series of procurements providing easy access for researchers to a set of compliant, flexible, digital tools by means of appropriate frameworks. This toolset will comprise commodity cloud services (IaaS) with some related platform and software solutions. A separate digital toolset will focus on the requirements of the research community consuming earth observation data via the Copernicus program.

• To drive the adoption of such services across this community by means of a series of funding waves. These waves will be focused on individual researchers, institutional projects, and collaborations that meet a specific set of requirements.

These ambitions should drive the acceleration of cloud adoption in the European research community by bringing together cloud providers, Earth observation (EO) organisations, and the wider European research and education community through validated, ready-to-use service agreements and adoption funding.
A critical structural element of the cloud services procurement framework was examined by the review panel. After extensive market analysis and supplier engagement, the procurement team decided that the only way to ensure sustainable access to cloud-related digital services was to have suppliers of these services with a supportive local presence focused on the researcher at point of consumption. The only viable solution identified was to select suppliers (often resellers of cloud platforms with local servicing capabilities) via a lot per country. It is imperative that this design is understood and supported. The multi-lot structure also supports VAT compliance as the provider and consumer of services are in the same country.

Once the cloud tender documents were approved by the Commission, the tender was published on the Negometrix platform and announced on TED [TED] on 16 April 2020. The tender closed on 23 June 2020, and the supplier bids are currently under evaluation and scoring. The tender deadline had been extended in response to the current COVID-19 crisis in Europe. It is fair to say that the market response was unprecedented in bid quality and scale, and that the resultant framework will provide significant choices regarding commercial cloud and digital service solutions for the European research community. There will be a number of cloud platforms represented in each of the 40 participating countries.

With regard to the Earth Observations services procurement, a Dynamic Procurement System (DPS) has been designed, and it is anticipated that this will be published in early October 2020. Based on the immaturity of this market, a DPS was selected in order to facilitate new suppliers of these services entering our procurement throughout the life of the framework. The detailed researcher requirements will continue to grow and will be defined by the project response to the open calls for funding in this marketplace. The first OCRE open call for funding for EO services will be published on 14 October 2020. The DPS documents will be submitted to the review panel for approval before publication.

The Wave 1/part 1 vouchers procured from CloudSigma (Switzerland), TI Sparkle (Italy) and Micromail (Ireland) by the GÉANT contract management team identified significant unresolvable VAT issues (TI Sparkle and Micromail). This may result in having only CloudSigma vouchers distributed in this wave, which will significantly reduce the anticipated reporting output. This may also result in the cancellation of the second part of Wave 1. The designated funds would then be used in Wave 2 and 3. These VAT issues derive from the requirement that this tax is payable by the issuing entity at the point of consumption, and are listed as significant in the risks section of this document (Appendix B).
OCRE builds on HNSciCloud, the GÉANT cloud tender and GÉANT Trust and Identity activities. Deliverable 1.1. describes this baseline situation (a reference description of the foundation where OCRE builds upon) in more detail. OCRE builds on this baseline through a range of new elements:
• New / more cloud and EO service types. HNSciCloud and the GÉANT tender were about IaaS. OCRE moves beyond IaaS and plans to add the other two cloud service types: SaaS and PaaS, as well as EO-specific services. This will increase the available services.
• New delivery models:
○ A co-funding model for commodity services, combining EC adoption funds with customers’ financial contributions to motivate uptake;
○ Cloud credits made available to users and institutions in the form of vouchers.
• Increases in upfront user commitment from buyers and buyer-groups; first used in HNSciCloud and now to be scaled up through OCRE;
• Putting in place the required business, legal and technical solutions to facilitate and manage the aforementioned items at scale.

The expected impact of OCRE is as follows:

Impact 1: Drive the adoption of commercial digital services
OCRE aims to have a direct impact on the core of the European Open Science Cloud: to drive adoption of Type A and Type B commercial digital services; to provide the right conditions of use and facilitate usage of these services at large.

Impact 2: Establish and validate a procurement framework for EOSC as a cost-effective commodity service delivery vehicle

Impact 3: Make practical the deployment of several business models, enabling research communities at large to access commercial cloud services and move from a “grant-based” to a “customer-based” approach.

Impact 4: Create a production-ready services environment, bringing together public e-infrastructures and commercial service providers.
OCRE establishes the links between both the private and public sector by inducing adoption, stimulating innovation and creating new markets.

Impact 5: Create added value chains for the DIAS resources back-ends
The Copernicus Data and Information Access Services (DIAS), launched in May 2017 to facilitate access to Copernicus data and information from the Copernicus services. It puts OCRE in a pioneering position, as the DIAS platforms are only just beginning to ramp-up their services, on top of which value-added EO offerings can be established.

Impact 6: Demonstrate a working interoperability between commodity and Copernicus DIAS value thematic services with the EOSC-hub

Impact 7: Make a wide range of services available, to be used by the research community. As a part of the Digital Single Market Strategy OCRE wants to provide the European research community with easier access to commercially available digital services, by offering an attractive service portfolio, which meets the needs of the community.

These efforts will lower access barriers for the scientific community to commercial services, including DIAS-supported added value services, and enhance industry’s potential to take advantage of scientific market opportunities.
Its integrated set of activities will allow OCRE to decisively contribute to the establishment of a single market for digital services for the European Research community and the European Open Science Cloud.