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Getting every researcher digital

The Euro neon sign outside European Central Bank in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
The Euro neon sign outside European Central Bank in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Image courtesy Wikimedia.

At the EGI Technical Forum in Lyon last week, Kostas Glinos, head of the e-Infrastructure Unit at the European Commission, introduced the next framework funding program in Europe, called Horizon 2020.

Following on from FP7, which has given us EGI-InSPIRE, EGEE, GEANT, PRACE and many other projects, Horizon 2020 will run for six years from 2014 to 2020, and represents an increase in funding to just over one trillion Euros. The Research and Innovation part of the program is expecting to dispense 80 billion Euros, up from 57 billion in FP7.

Horizon 2020 is expected to be adopted by the EC by 30 November and will be presented at the Innovation Convention in Brussels.

Reviewing the role of GÉANT

Likely orientations for the program will include seamless online services for the European Research Area, innovation and industry, human capital such as training and citizen science, the global dimension and support to societal challenges using Key Enabling Technologies.

The Geant Experts Group (GEG) has been reviewing the set up and purpose of GÉANT (the pan-European data network) and the National Research and Education Networks (NRENs), and according to Kostas the group will present its report to Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes on October 4 - so, watch out for more news on that.

Moving towards a cloud strategy for 2012, the commission recognizes that the main issues are not technical but in areas such as interoperability, privacy, legal, governance, security and dependability.

The HPC imbalance

For high performance computing, Kostas warned that Europe has lost 10% of its HPC capabilities in the last 2 years, while Asia increased by 30% and the US by 40% - China will soon overtake Europe as a whole on the supply side. There is still some fragmentation of HPC efforts in Europe, despite the PRACE project. However, Europe still has a full value chain of HPC technologies and is strong in application software. The race to exascale computing also offers opportunities.

Open access is now enshrined in policy through Innovation Europe and the Digital Agenda - in future, it will become a condition for funding. This is just one of the challenges ahead for distributed computing infrastructures in providing e-Infrastructure as a service in order to get every researcher digital.

Users need to be more diverse, and should have access to an integrated, seamless offering. We should embrace clouds, where it makes sense to do so, and sustainability is key - the community has to develop mature business models.

It is important in the next year to develop a clear, joint vision for the future of distributed computing, supported by a fully committed community, which can be fed into Horizon 2020.

On Thursday and Friday, the 9th e-Infrastructure Concertation meeting was held at the EGI Technical Forum in Lyon, to discuss how to define e-Infrastructures in Horizon 2020, and to set up a roadmap for data infrastructures and the next steps in Mediterranean, Africa and Latin America.

This article is an edited version of a blog originally published on the GridCast Blog from the EGI Technical Forum in Lyon.

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