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A European Cloud Initiative

The European Cloud Initiative will build on a trusted, open environment for the scientific community to store, share and re-use scientific data and results: the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC). Underpinning this, the new European Data Infrastructure (EDI) aims to deploy the super-computing capacity, fast connectivity and high-capacity cloud solutions required by the EOSC. This initiative will bring together existing and new data infrastructures.

The Cloud Initiative will make it easier for researchers, businesses and public services to exploit big data. Cloud storage means that data is maintained and managed remotely and made available to users over a network. Today’s initiative combines data infrastructures that store and manage data; the high-bandwidth networks that transport data; and ever more powerful high performance computers that can be used to process the data. The Cloud will make it possible to move, share and re-use data seamlessly across global markets and borders, and among institutions and research disciplines.

Initially, the EOSC will be accessible to researchers and innovators from European universities and research institutions, and their global scientific collaborators. At a later stage, as new and existing resources become available, access will be widened to research and innovation staff from the public sector and from the industry. When this happens, not all access to data will necessarily be free, as the legitimate interests of right holders need to be respected. The EOSC will include a system for the clearing of intellectual property rights (IPR) in relation to the access and use of specific datasets. In the long run, ‘pay per use’ access to valuable contents may also help ensure the sustainability of the new scientific data infrastructure.

There will be a governance platform for policy development on infrastructure and services, mechanisms for global data stewardship, decision-making on funding (requirements and procurement instruments) and long-term sustainability for the EOSC and for the supporting European Data Infrastructure (EDI). This will involve scientific users, funders and procurers, and will build on existing governance structures, such as the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) or the pan-European data network for the Research and Education Community (GEANT). In 2016, the Commission, in cooperation with stakeholders and Member States, will explore potential governance and financing mechanisms for the EOSC and the European Data Infrastructure (EDI) and define an implementation roadmap.

The European Data Infrastructure is the combination of world-class supercomputing (HPC) capability, high-speed connectivity, leading-edge data storage and interfaces for cloud-based service delivery. High-performance ICT infrastructures are needed to manage the current and expected scale of future data flows. European science, industry and public services need world-class infrastructures and cloud-based services to compete and thrive in the digital economy. The EDI will provide the right support for the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC). The European Data Infrastructure (EDI) will be open to users from across the emerging digital economy:

– Researchers. Every research centre, every research project and every researcher in Europe should have access to world class supercomputing, data storage and analysis through the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC).

– Businesses will have access to top level data and computing infrastructures. Thanks to this extra processing capacity and speed, they will be able to process data more quickly, or deal with more complicated problems and concepts – meaning they can be more adventurous in their ideas and develop more innovative concepts, products and services. This will enable them to develop new data driven markets and compete at world level.

– Public authorities. Access to the EDI will help deliver lower cost, faster, better and interconnected public services. Public sector activities that themselves generate massive amounts of data or need large computing resources (e.g. smart cities) will benefit from economies of scale, flexibility and continuity.

While the European Cloud Initiative will require funding at various stages, this funding will follow, not drive, decisions on governance and on the extent of federation and services needed by scientists. The Cloud Initiative is a based on a European Open Science Cloud and a European Data Infrastructure. The public and private investment needed to implement the European Cloud Initiative is estimated at €6.7 billion. The Commission estimates that, overall, €2 billion in Horizon 2020 funding will be allocated to the European Cloud Initiative. The required additional public and private investment would amount to 4.7 billion in the period of 5 years. This additional investment includes €3.5 billion for data infrastructure, €1 billion for a large-scale EU-wide quantum technologies flagship and €0.2 billion for the actions on widening access and building trust. The Commission considers that this investment need can be met through a combination of funding from EU programmes, Member States and private sources. The initiative will over time generate revenue of its own through ‘pay per use’ content, and growing uptake by the scientific community, innovative start-ups and the public sector.