Spreading the fire – Fed4FIRE to open call for SMEs
A second open call targeting SMEs launched in September 2014, with a proposal deadline set for October or November 2014 and experiments running from December 2014 to March/April 2015.
SME experimenters can benefit from specially designed open calls for experiments on the Fed4FIRE testing facilities, with simpler partnership arrangements and shorter timespans.
General rules for SME calls still apply, but project proposals for the Fed4FIRE test-bed now include partners as sub-contractors, reducing the administrative burden of a proposal.
These calls will also last only four months, with proposers receiving feedback from evaluations within one month and starting experiments within two months of the submission deadline.
The first open call to SMEs was in April 2014. Out of the 12 proposals it received, four were selected, each obtaining support worth up to EUR 25 000.
At the end of 2014, Fed4FIRE will evaluate the impact of these calls and decide whether to make further SME calls and, if so, whether to adapt their format.
More partners, better facilities
Since Fed4FIRE started in October 2012, the project has expanded to 28 partners across its 17 experimentation facilities. These facilities now support 12 experiments - 9 from industry - with good results from three already.
The project covers 80% of the major functionalities over its test-beds so far, and has improved the MySlice, jFed, NEPI, OMF and OMF experimenter tools. Layer 2 and layer 3 connectivity also exists between a large number of the facilities.
Externally, Fed4FIRE is working with the EU’s FIRE project and the US’s GENI project, attending the 2nd GENI/FIRE collaboration workshop in Boston in May 2014, and holding the first Fed4FIRE-GENI Research Experiment Summit in Ghent in June.
Experimenting today with the internet of tomorrow
Over a few decades, the internet changed the world forever. This happened through continuous research and experimentation with novel internet technologies. Numerous experimentation facilities have been built – some funded by the EU – each targeting a specific future internet domain. Fed4FIRE’s goal is to federate these facilities.
The resulting platform will enable innovative cross-domain experimentation, providing researchers easy access to resources on different test beds. Some 17 facilities are currently involved, making available a diverse set of technologies, from cloud computing, wired and wireless networking to software defined networking, Internet of Things and smart cities.
Stimulating EU facilities to join the Fed4FIRE federation will not only result in a larger and more diverse set of resources being made available to experimenters, it will also result in an overall improvement of test bed maturity throughout Europe.
In May 2013 Fed4FIRE launched a first open call for additional facilities and experiments. For experiments, a proposal could receive a maximum EU contribution of € 80 000, while the total budget was € 600 000. For experimentation facilities, new partners could receive a maximum contribution of € 100 000 from a total budget of € 300 000.
The call proved that Fed4FIRE is highly attractive to the European Future Internet community: a total of 81 proposals were submitted from 19 countries and 91 organisations. This equates to a budget over-subscription rate of 679 % for new experiments, and 796 % for new facilities. The corresponding success rate was 14.3 % and 12 % – after evaluation by independent experts, 11 proposals were included in the project.
SMEs found it challenging to compete with experiment proposals from universities, research institutes and large industrial parties when responding to the call. Fed4FIRE is therefore implementing two SME-specific call types:
- With dedicated support from a Fed4FIRE partner: € 25 000 per proposal is available for the experimenter, and € 10 000 can be assigned to the consortium partner responsible for supporting the experiment.
- Without dedicated support from a Fed4FIRE partner: € 10 000 per proposal is available for the experimenter. This type of call will only be launched once all those within the other category have closed, and if there is a clear need for them.
Otherwise, both call types are largely similar. Neither imposes innovation criteria, while the proposal document is significantly simplified for both. In each case external judges will evaluate the proposals, but a preliminary feasibility study can be requested from Fed4FIRE. Experimenters will always become subcontractors, not project partners.
If these new call formulas are successful, they will benefit the project itself, as well as SMEs seeking research funding.
CREATING A MATURE ENVIRONMENT
The project’s federation architecture is based on distributed components. In such an approach, adopting common interfaces and making sure that every member is fully compliant with them becomes critical. The team therefore developed a new software tool enabling rigorous integration testing. Called jFed (jfed.iminds.be), the tool is used both for manual testing of new test beds, and for daily automatic testing of operational federated test beds.
The operational status of the federation requires continuous monitoring. This is done through the regular collection of live status information from all facilities, and their combination within a single dashboard. A team of First Level Support operators carefully monitors this dashboard and takes immediate action when needed.
Fed4FIRE is federating test beds at a scale previously unseen in Europe, which puts the project in a strong position to stimulate collaboration with related initiatives around the world. In October 2013, Fed4FIRE hosted a workshop in Leuven, Belgium, to stimulate collaboration between US researchers working on the National Science Foundation’s Global Environment for Network Innovations (GENI) and their EU counterparts.
Thirty participants attended the workshop, selected for their expertise. Several opportunities for collaboration were identified and initiated, including visits by US researchers to specific EU partners and the setting up of joint experiments remotely. Ultimately, the future internet research carried out by EU researchers has the potential to influence internet technology around the world.