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Record attendance at third SIG-CISS (Cloudy Interoperable Software Stacks) meeting

Collaboration, community, federated access, NREN use of services, GÉANT project … are some of the key words highlighted by the satisfaction survey following the third SIG-CISS meeting that took place at the DFN office in Berlin in November 2018.

The event was exceptional not only for the record attendance registered, but also for the wealth of themes covered. Over 30 delegates from 19 European organisations, including universities, NRENs, High-Performance Computing (HPC), cloud resource centres and commercial providers joined the event in person or remotely via videoconference.

The agenda was packed, but well-balanced.  Its strategic, technical and commercial topics included: the vision for community clouds within the next phase of the GÉANT project (GN4-3); 2019 forecasts of Cloud Services for Synchronisation and Sharing (CS3) within the community and OwnCloud’s ‘out-of-the-box’ view on bridging the gap between usb sticks and attachments.

Simon Leinen from SWITCH introduced the Open Stack Operators (OSO) and presented on the collaboration between SWITCH and the academic community in Switzerland. OSO is an initiative that gathers cloud operators from across Europe and fosters knowledge and experience exchange among experts on a daily basis. Simon also highlighted the interaction and complementarity between OSO and SIG-CISS.

Cloud activity leader Andres Steijaert from SURFnet talked about making cloud services accessible, easy and safe to use through pan-European collaborations and agreements. The public cloud procures from commercial suppliers whilst community clouds develop and operate sector-specific solutions – the aim is to have one digital single market with multiple cloud services. Andres’  presentation included also an interactive session where participants discussed the importance for NRENs and HPC centres to offer community clouds, which problems these solve and who are their users. The session also comprised an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the current cloud offerings as the baseline for further collaboration between GÉANT cloud activity and SIG-CISS.

Kalle Happonen from CSC, the Finnish IT Centre for Science, presented its organisation’s experience of automated testing against OpenStack deployments with Rally. He showed that active testing of OpenStack could reveal problems at infrastructure level before impacting operations. He also highlighted that tests may act as proof of correctness for the OpenStack configuration after performing relevant updates.

Xavier Espinal from CERN talked about data storage, management and access evolution, in light of the ever-growing data volumes in scientific communities such as physics, astrophysics and cosmology. With bigger data volumes and data sets complexity, the “traditional” solutions do not scale anymore. ‘Data Lake’, one of the solutions for handling unforeseen workloads, promises to address current needs and to scale into future Exascale traffic.

The following meaningful feedback from one of the participants is undoubtedly the essence of our meeting: “We are all (NRENS and others) following similar paths and trying to solve similar problems. SIG-CISS offers a very good collaboration platform even on a more technical level.”

Our heartfelt thanks go to DFN not only for hosting the meeting, but also for providing invaluable technical and marketing support throughout the duration of the event.

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