Skip to main content

Blue-Cloud: Piloting innovative services for Marine Research & the Blue Economy

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Blue Cloud (Blue-Cloud: Piloting innovative services for Marine Research & the Blue Economy)

Reporting period: 2019-10-01 to 2021-03-31

Blue-Cloud addresses the need to build and demonstrate the Pilot Blue Cloud as a thematic European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) to support research to better understand and manage the many aspects of ocean sustainability, through a set of five compelling pilot Blue-Cloud demonstrators. Moreover, it seeks to capitalise on what exists already and to develop and deploy, though a pragmatic work plan, the Pilot Blue Cloud as a cyber platform bringing together and providing access to: 1) multidisciplinary data from observations and models, 2) analytical tools, & 3) computing facilities essential for key blue science use cases. The project maintains a practical approach to address the potential of web-based open science in the marine domain to achieve a set of services identifying also longer term challenges that will provide the basis for a Blue- Cloud Roadmap to serve the wider community.

The Blue-Cloud is part of ‘The Future of Seas and Oceans Flagship Initiative’ and federates leading European marine data management infrastructures, and horizontal e-infrastructures (EUDAT, WEkEO, D4Science) to capitalise on what exists already and to develop and deploy the “Blue Cloud” framework.
The Blue-Cloud platform architecture consists of two major components:
The Blue-Cloud Virtual Research Environment (VRE), providing a cloud-based analytical and publishing framework as a federation and orchestration of computing platforms and analytical services for constructing, hosting and operating Virtual Labs for specific applications.
The Blue-Cloud Data Discovery & Access service, federating key European data management infrastructures (SeaDataNet, EMODnet, EurOBIS, Euro-Argo and Argo GDAC, ELIXIR-ENA, EcoTaxa, SOCAT, and ICOS-Marine) to facilitate users in finding and retrieving multi-disciplinary datasets from multiple repositories.
The Blue-Cloud Virtual Labs have specific analytical workflows to serve as Demonstrators showcasing the potential of open science in the marine domain, which can be adopted and adapted for other inputs and analyses to advance knowledge and innovation across different marine disciplines. The Blue-Cloud demonstrators show how Open Science can enhance the marine knowledge value chain in support of greater societal objectives including UN Sustainable Development Goals. These Demonstrators deal with analytical workflows for:
○ Zoo- and Phytoplankton EOV products
○ Plankton Genomics
○ Marine Environmental Indicators
○ Fisheries data analytics
○ Aquaculture Monitor

Another output is the Strategic Roadmap to 2030, a policy document providing the basis for the future strategic development of the Blue-Cloud well embedded as a leading system in the wider marine community and as a component of the EOSC.
The Blue-Cloud platform architecture. The Blue Cloud VRE evolved up to the current version featuring 10 Blue-Cloud VLab created and currently operated. The VRE is designed to be scalable and sustainable for near-future expansions, such as connecting additional blue data infrastructures, implementing more and advanced blue analytical services, configuring more dedicated Virtual Labs, and targeting more users.

The Blue-Cloud Data Discovery & Access service provides a common interface for discovery and retrieval of data sets from the federated Blue Data infrastructures. Users are able to download and store the retrieved data sets from each of them. The current version of the service has just been released in May 2021.

Five Blue-Cloud demonstrators have been developed as Virtual Labs embedded in the D4Science VRE e-infrastructure and supported by data input from the Blue Cloud Data Discovery and Access service and other data resources, and possible additional computing services. Each demonstrator delivers services accessible through one or more Virtual Labs powered by the Blue-Cloud Platform and provide access to datasets, products, and computations routine exploitable to analyse datasets and (re)generate products. A first version of the Blue Cloud Demonstrators Users Handbook was released in December 2020 and the demonstrators Virtual Labs are currently all accessible online.

The release of a draft version of the Blue-Cloud Strategic Roadmap, the vision and strategic plan that will guide the further development and evolution into its medium and longer-term future. Started with a workshop in July 2020, an online survey in October 2020 and a Policy Dialogue in November 2020, the Draft version was released in March 2021 and is now entering its second open consultation in June 2021, a path towards the final version of the Roadmap expected in July 2022.

Continuous dissemination activities have been implemented to improve the dissemination of the project’s Key Exploitable Results (KERs) towards the key identified stakeholders and to increase the numbers of users, with the final objective to create an international community with members from different European and non-European countries. By March 2021 the Blue-Cloud extended community counted +1.000 contacts and by February 2021, Blue-Cloud VRE had welcomed nearly 550 users responsible for almost 17.800 accesses to the VLabs.
Blue-Cloud is witnessing a practical model for other thematic clouds to run in the EOSC, thanks to the experience of a thematic (“marine”) EOSC that can serve as a role model and ‘blueprint’ for the development of other thematic clouds within EOSC. The services deployed through Blue-Cloud demonstrators address specific research and innovation needs for Oceans, seas and freshwater bodies, while the Blue-Cloud Data Discovery & Access service allows to easily access and discover important volumes of blue data, with FAIRness, which are made easily discoverable and accessible. Blue-Cloud is showing how researchers interacting with e-infrastructure developers can establish a cyber platform with tools and services, which support many scientific challenges and are fit-for-purpose, meanwhile building a thriving community and synergies between IT developers and blue domain researchers.

Interdisciplinary & cross sectorial nature impact. The Blue-Cloud structure itself boosts a natural collaboration among the disciplines, to achieve syntactic and semantic integration of the datasets and meaningful cross-sector analytics. One example of a successful approach is the collaboration between Blue-Cloud with the FNS-Cloud project, which has led to the release of ufish, a data management prototype application in May 2021.

Collaboration across Pilot demonstrators & other projects & initiatives. The project has established 32 partnerships between a variety of actors, aiming to create long-lasting relationships both for attaining the Blue-Cloud’s long-term objectives and for contributing to shaping the strategic Roadmap to 2030.

Blue-Cloud user-centred approach. The goal for the next period is to broaden the community and support the uptake of the technology provided by Blue-Cloud. The future onboarding of the services into the EOSC Portal will also represent a key-achievement of the project, which will be supported by a communication campaign.

Building up on the first release of the Blue-Cloud Services Exploitation and Sustainability Plan , the final Blue-Cloud Service Exploitation and Sustainability Plan will define an exploitation model to secure with partners the operation and exploitation of the Blue-Cloud results in the 3 years following the project end.