Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

H2020

SENECA Report Summary

Project ID: 642954
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.3.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SENECA (Software ENgineering in Enterprise Cloud Applications systems)

Reporting period: 2015-01-01 to 2016-12-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The growth of cloud computing is phenomenal, with vendors experiencing yearly growth above 90%. This reflects the rate at which organizations and individuals are leaving the comfort of tried and tested solutions to move into promising but uncharted territory.

The aim of SENECA is no less than to address key issues in the software engineering of cloud-based systems, including a disciplined approach to their development and operation. The project partners have pooled their considerable knowledge and experience to identify areas where applied research, industrial tests, as well as graduate-level training can deliver the most promising results.

The main challenge associated with cloud-based systems is their quality, as characterized (following ISO 25010) by their functional suitability, security, reliability, usability, performance efficiency, maintainability, and portability. Important quality issues include: How can the quality of a software-defined cloud infrastructure be measured and assured? How can the security of a cloud-based system be ensured, taking into account that it may be running on an un-trusted infrastructure? How can the energy-efficiency and CO2 footprints of cloud-based applications be optimized?
SENECA addresses this challenge along the axes of A) cloud-based products and B) the cloud development process and tools. Research along axis A reaches from extending “traditional” quality assurance techniques to the cloud environment, to techniques for optimizing energy consumption by cloud systems without compromising performance or reliability. Research along axis B reaches from combining theory and practice to allow construction of secure systems on top of insecure cloud infrastructures, to improving testing practices for cloud development.

Additionally SENECA pursues objectives to train recruited fellows on conducting industry-motivated research and to create joint supervision structures among industry and academia in the software engineering community.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

This mid-term report reflects the activities of the SENECA project in its first reporting period (January 2015- December 2016). The project experienced a delayed recruitment of fellows, completing recruitment behind schedule in July 2016 (project month 18). Given the delay, the project has been running at full speed to complete its scheduled deliverables. All fellows have an approved research plan and are already starting to disseminate their work, leading to attendance at many academic conferences, publications at several peer-reviewed venues, and various web blog posts.
The first round of training workshops was delivered in June 2016, in Athens, Greece.

The project has an undersigned Consortium Agreement between the beneficiaries, an established Supervisory Board, and has performed and followed-up on a satisfaction survey among its fellows.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The following paragraphs describe the impact of SENECA’s research and training activities on the fellows' future careers. Perhaps the most obvious, quantifiable result of this programme is that –after its completion– nine PhD holders who will be experts on software engineering in cloud computing, will be ready to enter the European industry or academia. This is particularly important if one considers both the emerging adoption of cloud systems by companies and individuals but also the need for more qualified software engineers who can lead the development of such systems. However, the aim of this research project goes beyond the successful completion of PhDs.

First and foremost, SENECA, through the identification of industry-oriented and industry-driven research gaps, aims to create top level researchers with very good knowledge of current and future industrial needs and challenges. Those researchers, apart from being able to innovate through research, they will be equipped with skills to identify practical ways that research can be applied, used and create value in industry. This will ensure that results of academic research will not be kept in research articles and reports only but they will be used in real-life applications and systems. Apart from being useful for industrial needs, being able to do practice-based research is also interesting from an academic point of view since it can lead to research areas, perspectives or methods never thought before due to academic silos. At the same time, however, the co-existence of an academic supervisor for each fellow can guarantee top quality research rather than pure adaptation of existing solutions in order to meet industrial requirements.

The skills mentioned above (conduct research with an industrial perspective and apply its results to real systems) will also ensure that the individuals who have developed them, when they will become decision makers in the non- academic organisations they will be occupied by in their future career, they will have the knowledge to put forward similar research activities. The main reason this can happen is that those individuals will have real-life experience on the benefits and expected returns of such activities and they can, in turn, evaluate future ones in their organisations.

Another way research and training activities in SENECA can affect the future career of the recruited researchers is through their exposure to ways they can commercialise the results of their own research. All members of the consortium have participated in some way in the creation and development of spin-off companies and they can assist the researchers by providing valuable know-how and expertise on the process. Moreover, by interacting with industry people throughout their PhDs, the researchers can also identify potential market needs and opportunities to create market products from their PhD research. These products can either be targetting companies like the ones the fellows will be recruited by or end-users like the clients of the companies of this consortium. Finally, apart from the determination of market needs, the interaction of the fellows with people working in industrial partners can also provide them with contacts that can be used during the development of their own company, such as other partners, suppliers and funding bodies.

Finally, each ESR will have the opportunity, under the guidance and support of experienced people from the academic and the industrial sector, to develop a well-structured career development plan for his/her activities during the PhD but also for his long term aspirations and goals and the way they could be achieved. This plan, even if not followed precisely, can provide a very good starting point for each researcher to set up a path towards a successful career on areas of his/her interest.
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