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About cloud technology and the European R&E communiy

Pubblicato il 23 March 2023

About cloud technology, many institutions are currently debating whether to rely entirely on public cloud services (managed by the major international market players) or to build and maintain their ownh cloud infrastructures, maybe considering the federation of resources as with the GARR Cloud.

This diversity of positions is not common also outside the Italian borders, and specifically within the European research community.

Recently, GARR director Claudia Battista shared some food for thought on the matter, also providing useful elements for users to decide whether and how to possibly rely on public (commercial) clouds.

“The offer of ICT services by commercial providers has dramatically grown over the years and today the adoption of applications and information services on public clouds is a thing even in the scientific, academic, and cultural environment. A national research network can only acknowledge this trend and try to adopt policies to offer the best support to connected organisations that choose this option”. And she continues “Yet, it is important to underline that this choice has important consequences and calls for attention to some technical, functional, and strategic aspects. Moving one or more services from the research domain to a public cloud can immediately impact performances, as well as our capacity to control our data and applications; but most importantly in the medium-long term, it can have effects on the technical and economic capacity to switch to solutions more suitable to the user’s needs, and ultimately constitute a limitation to the freedom to do so”.

Some of the key elements to be considered before buying are:

  • the presence of peering towards research networks,
  • the conditions for moving your data if you want to change supplier
  • and the level of interoperability and accessibility by those who collaborate with us.

We are talking about digital sovereignty, which for us at GARR means having full control over the tools, technologies, and conditions for carrying out scientific research, but also the knowledge of the context and the technical skills needed to choose appropriately”.

At the international level, the position of the GARR director was taken up by the GÉANT Connect magazine which recently published on its blog an interview with Claudio Pisa, of the GARR computing and distributed storage department (CSD), which sheds light on the various trends within to the European research network community. Claudio has recently joined the Special Interest Group on Cloud Interoperable Software Stacks​ (SIG-CISS) of GÉANT, i.e. the members of the GÉANT community who are builders and operators of cloud services aim at making their services interoperable, also in view of the creation of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC).

In the interview, Claudio explains how two currents coexist within the GÉANT community, one that aims to work together at the procurement level in order to obtain public (commercial) cloud services at advantageous prices for the community, and the other that focuses on in-house resources and communities cloud.“The two realities are neither antithetical nor mutually exclusive,” comments Claudio “but it is important to understand and value the contribution that cloud communities can make to European research both in terms of data protection and digital sovereignty and in terms of knowledge exchange and development capacity”.

The full interview with Claudio Pisa is available here.
Here is a document illustrating the vision of European networks (NREN) operating on cloud communities: Claudia Battista's article illustrating the vision on adoption of public (commercial) clouds is available on GARR NEWS and on Connect

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