Digital Agenda for Europe
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Keeping the bonfires burning in 2014

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Capping off the successful completion of the EU-funded BonFIRE project involving a consortium of leading European cloud computing players, a new Foundation has been created to guarantee continued ‘free’ access by researchers to the infrastructure, resources and expertise of its members.
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The multi-cloud test bed – virtual testing platform for researchers carrying out complex, often costly and data-heavy experiments on myriad internet cloud services – developed under the recently-concluded BonFIRE research project will be available, free of charge, to ‘experimenters’ throughout 2014.

This comes after the consortium reached an agreement on how to handle intellectual property rights (IPR). The agreement paved the way for core syndicate partners Atos (Spain), IT Innovation (UK), the University of Edinburgh (UK), the University of Stuttgart (Germany), iMinds (Belgium), the French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control, and the Poznan Super Computing and Networking Centre (Poland) to continue offering the cloud experimentation service. Delivered under the framework of the newly-formed BonFIRE Foundation, the facility provides an open platform to engineer future cloud technologies in a way that is not restricted by current business models. This is important in order to increase innovation in the cloud and boost the success of European companies, especially smaller businesses.

A GOOD DISRUPTION

Clouds have changed how services, such as data storage, apps and email, are performed and fundamentally altered or ‘disrupted’ the way services and software is engineered. BonFIRE recognises this disruption as a major challenge for service providers and that a new approach is needed to support the development of innovative services.

Many organisations cannot afford to invest in their own cloud facility and especially not an industrial-strength cloud spread across many countries or regions. So with funding from the European Commission, BonFIRE has delivered a multifunctional cloud facility with the capability and capacity to carry out large-scale testing of novel cloud ideas.

SHIFTING CONTROL

Using business scenario analysis, real-cost accounting, open access
and a novel licensing model, BonFIRE has pioneered and put into
action ground-breaking ideas in sustainable infrastructures.

Customers of public clouds – computing power and services available to the general public over the internet – have very little idea of what is going on in the cloud. “Part of the attraction is that the cloud provider takes responsibility for managing the physical infrastructure, but the lack of transparency in public clouds is a problem for testing cloud technology,” notes the BonFire project team. “Users (researchers and developers) need to know what is going on in the cloud.”

Better infrastructure and information, on-demand with builtin self-service facilities would improve the reliability and transparency of public clouds, and enable users to “observe and control with the operational conditions they want”.

By focusing on openness and transparent operations, BonFIRE has shifted the ‘control’ from the provider to the customer. Designed according to Open Platform principles, in terms of what developers need for cloud testing and experimentation (i.e. observability, control, advanced cloud features and ease of use), BonFIRE allows users to explore fresh ideas but also to test those that are closer to market.

KEEPING THE LIGHTS ON

Keeping the service alive beyond the lifetime of the research project posed a significant challenge, but BonFIRE planned for such a contingency. Using business scenario analysis, real-cost accounting, open access and a novel licensing model, BonFIRE has pioneered and put into action ground-breaking ideas in sustainable infrastructures.

BonFIRE has been able to make the transition from a European research project to a world-class cloud-testing and experimentation facility with commitment to sustain the offering without EU funding in 2014. The aim is to further promote take-up of the facility and establish it as the platform of choice for distributed systems experimentation.

To use the facilities, all you need is an idea for testing and experimentation that exploits BonFIRE’s unique features. Join BonFIRE on http://www.bonfire-project.eu/access-now.

The BonFIRE consortium brought together leading industrial and academic organisations in cloud computing to deliver a robust, reliable and sustainable ‘virtual’ facility for large-scale experiment-driven cloud research. Running from June 2010 to November 2013, the project included two open calls for experiments.


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