Opening science to the world; opening the world to science

‘Engaging the research community towards an Open Science Commons’ was the main theme of the European Grid Infrastructure (EGI) annual conference that was held in Lisbon from 18 to 22 May. At the conference, the EGI­Engage project was launched and the European Open Science Cloud was discussed.


Tiziana Ferrari, technical director of, speaks at the EGI Annual conference in Lisbon this year.

The EGI­Engage project was launched during the opening session of the conference by Tiziana Ferrari, technical director of This project, which has been funded through the EU’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, aims to accelerate progress towards the implementation of the Open Science Commons. It seeks to do so by expanding the capabilities of a European backbone of federated services for computing, storage, data, communication, knowledge and expertise, as well as related community­-specific capabilities.

“Federation is important because science is inherently distributed,” said Ferrari. “The next two years will offer a great opportunity to further the development of the digital European Research Area, where a vital role is played by the Open Science Commons that provide services for the ‘long tail’ of research. My wish is that we will be able to eliminate many of the technical barriers that currently exist for researchers wishing to use e-­infrastructures to support their work.”

This very broad vision for the Open Science Commons was also echoed by Sergio Bertolucci, Director for Research and Computing at CERN. “CERN has a long tradition of open science,” he said. “Open science is connected to open data, and the LHC experiments have clear policies regarding open access to research data.” Bertolucci also emphasised the success of Zenodo and the CERN Open Data Portal: “Open access is a logical next step and CERN is well placed to engage the high-­energy physics community and exploit its link to the EIROforum.”

One way to support the transition to open science, and thus make the most of today’s data-­driven research, is the European Open Science Cloud initiative, which was also discussed at the EGI conference. Earlier this year, CERN published a paper proposing the establishment of a European Open Science Cloud that will enable digital science by introducing ‘IT as a service’ to the public research sector in Europe. This paper calls for a hybrid model that brings together public research organisations and e‐infrastructures with commercial suppliers to build a common platform that offers a range of services to Europe’s research communities.

At the conference, CERN’s Bob Jones, the primary author of the paper, chaired a session focused on analysing the opportunities and barriers related to cross­border procurement of e­-infrastructure services. Jones, who is head of the Externally Funded Projects section within the CERN IT Department, highlighted the work carried out through the Helix Nebula Initiative and the PICSE (Procurement Innovation for Cloud Services in Europe) project in developing a procurement model that could enable research collaborations to collectively acquire services to support their research agenda. “The Grid has worked beautifully, and this has been fundamental to the success of the LHC’s first run,” said Bertolucci. “Today, it is still more cost effective to operate our own facilities for LHC computing, but this situation is expected to change... We think that a hybrid approach that puts together grids and clouds is the future for LHC computing.”

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by Andrew Purcell