Following a successful final review by the European Commission, the OCRE project team celebrates the culmination of their work, together with the project’s conclusion and its remarkable achievements. In its role of OCRE’s coordinator, GÉANT extends its heartfelt appreciation to partner organisations CERN, RHEA and Trust-IT, as well as to contractors EARSC, Evenflow and SixSq for their contributions and for their dedication to the project’s success. Our thanks also to the community of European NRENs for their crucial role in support of the project, and to commercial partners for their proactive approach.
Unlocking the potential of cloud and EO services for European research
Concluded in December 2022, the OCRE (Open Clouds for Research Environments) project delivered an outstanding impact, by facilitating and accelerating consumption of commercial cloud and Earth Observation (EO) services for the European research and education community. In order to do that, in 2019 OCRE ran a pan-European tender, resulting in the OCRE Cloud Framework, which enabled more than 10,000 European institutions to easily access a broad and varied catalogue of digital services, at reduced costs.
Since its launch, the OCRE framework has opened the way for sustained and unrelenting growth in service adoption, and it’s now counting more than 800 institutions in 26 European countries actively consuming public cloud services. In particular 2022 registered the highest numbers to date, with cumulative total consumption of cloud services via the OCRE framework and its predecessor reaching €160M, of which approximately €69M consumed only in 2022 – a trend expected to keep growing throughout 2023.
With the OCRE project reaching its conclusion, the support to the framework will continue via the GÉANT GN5-1 project, which will also execute a new public tender for a following cloud framework.
Driving innovative research and boosting service adoption
As part of its key undertakings, the project also focused on stimulating and boosting service adoption, bridging the gap between supply and demand. Through open calls, mini-competitions, and voucher distribution, OCRE awarded funding for the consumption of Cloud and Earth Observation services to innovative research projects across several fields, from physics to e-health and archaeology. A series of success stories demonstrating how funded projects benefited from using the framework is available on the OCRE website.
Finally, OCRE also worked with the GÉANT clouds team and with the EOSC Future project to expand access to the procured cloud services, by successfully integrating the service offering from all 26 participating cloud providers into the EOSC Marketplace.
A lasting legacy for European Research and Education
The legacy of the OCRE project is expected to exceed its lifecycle and the duration of its framework. The project’s proposed business models, funding and procurement mechanisms can in fact potentially serve as a model for the procurement of commercial cloud and EO services, and especially in the context of EOSC.
OCRE’s key developments also include the EOSC Test Suite for Commercial Services, an open-source tool for benchmark testing and validation of commercial cloud services. Created by project partner CERN for the benefit of scientific workloads in multiple domains, the tool is expected to be adopted by EOSC as a support tool service for researchers that require validation of heterogeneous commercially or publicly funded cloud services.
Finally, towards the end of the project, the winners of the funding calls were also interviewed to identify the needs of the research community and their experience with OCRE. The findings were published in a final policy brief authored by project partner Trust-IT, summarising the challenges faced by researchers and the benefits of procurement via OCRE and providing recommendations on how to improve access to public cloud resources.
Discover more about OCRE and its legacy on the project’s website: https://www.ocre-project.eu