More than 800 decision makers, enthusiasts and stakeholders of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) all met at the last installation of the EOSChub Week between 18-20 May 2020.
The event was a vibrant online forum where the latest developments on EOSC activity areas such as architecture, core services, landscaping, FAIR data, rules of participation, sustainability, business models, community use cases and training were discussed with a particular focus on how EOSC-hub in collaboration with the other relevant EOSC-related projects is contributing to the achievements of the EOSC 2020 implementation milestones defined in the Implementation Roadmap for the European Open Science Cloud Commission staff working document.
Grand societal challenges have also been discussed showcasing how the research communities are better supporting policy makers thanks to the EOSC resources. The EOSC-hub Week 2020 officially opened on May 18 as it virtually played host to the co-located EOSC Consultation Day organised by the EOSCSecretariat project with the EOSC Executive Board.
The EOSC Consultation day: towards a new EOSC Governance
The EOSC Executive Board (EB) form an important part of the EOSC interim governance which with the EOSC Governance Board have worked tirelessly over the last 17 months to address a series of strategic challenges on how to implement the EOSC.
The EOSC interim governance will come to an end at the end of 2020 and the recommendations provided by that time will be put into place with the establishment of an EOSC legal entity. This landmark moment coincides with the beginning of the Horizon Europe programme which will be key in the next implementation phase of the EOSC.
The Consultation Day was an opportunity for community engagement on the work of the EOSC EB and its Working Groups. A large focus of their work to date has been on the EOSC partnership proposal which brings the EOSC governance towards a co-programme partnership under Horizon Europe. With 49 partnerships being developed for Horizon Europe, the EOSC is the only cross-pillar partnership being proposed so far as it addresses the 3 main goals of Horizon Europe: Better science, societal challenges and innovation.
The partnership proposal defines the vision of EOSC as an enabler of interdisciplinary research to address societal challenges. It will offer researchers anywhere in the EU the resources they need to boost scientific discoveries. It will stimulate the emergence in Europe of a competitive European cloud sector and it will give Europe a global lead in research data management. Finally, it will develop an internet of FAIR digital objects including publications and software and it will reduce fragmentation of existing research infrastructures. Work has also gone into the establishment of an EOSC legal entity that should be in place by December 2020.
The legal entity will be in the form of a Belgian not-forprofit association (AISBL) and will be responsible for developing and governing the federating core; managing the compliance framework, trusted certification, the AAI and PID policies; developing outreach, monitoring services and transactions, managing EOSC trademarks, and contributing to Horizon Europe policies. (Read the latest blog of the EOSC EB). Much discussion at the event was also focused on defining what the Minimal Valuable EOSC (MVE) will be.
The Tinman document published by the Sustainability WG states that the EOSC MVE will “enable the federation of research data infrastructures for the benefit of publicly funded researchers accessing openly available data”. The EOSC-core provides the means to discover, share, access and re-use data and services.
From EOSC 1.0 to 2.0
Fresh from the EOSC Consultation Day on 19 May 2020, EOSC-hub Project Coordinator and EGI Foundation Managing Director Tiziana Ferrari opened the first EOSC-hub day with a plenary session featuring an overview of the main EOSChub results and describing the status of EOSC.
EOSC-hub Project Director and CSC - IT Center for Science Research Infrastructures Director Per Öster highlighted how EOSC-hub is contributing to the various EOSC implementation areas: the progress made with the EOSC Portal and its service portfolio, the over 30 thematic services onboarded and eight competence centres with the examples of the success stories of the different communities, the EOSC Early Adopter Programme as a way to engage new communities and make them closer to EOSC, the EOSC Digital Innovation Hub and its business pilots as first experiences of exploitation of EOSC resources from the industry sector and all the contributions to the EOSC Working Groups, in particular to the Architecture and the Rules of Participation ones.
European Commission DG Connect eInfrastructure and European Open Science Cloud Deputy Head of Unit Liina Munari then presented the current and future role of e-Infrastructures in EOSC also outlining a timeline of the key EOSC milestones at the strategic level in the coming months and a possible timeline for the EOSC initiative under the Horizon Europe programme.
Liina remarked that we are at a crucial point for EOSC as we are transitioning from the EOSC 1.0 characterised by the work done by the current EOSC projects, the Executive Board and its Working Groups to establish the foundation with the “EOSC Core” to an EOSC 2.0 where EOSC infrastructure will need to support both the web of FAIR data and the services and the EOSC will need to show the added value and provide rewards and incentives.
As a core area of activity for EOSC-hub, a number of sessions were dedicated to EOSC services. In the EOSC-hub contribution to the EOSC Architecture session, the need for integration with existing infrastructure and adopting a pragmatic approach of public, open APIs was emphasised along with the need for a bottom-up development of the EOSC architecture.
The session Service Onboarding & Catalogue of services gave an overview of the current state of service onboarding in EOSC especially with the new role of EOSC Enhance in the process, the new resource description template as well as future changes to onboarding after EOSChub. “A researcher has various paths to choose from using EOSC services depending on their needs as there will be regional portals as well as regular thematic portals available.
The EOSC Platform can be considered as the ‘bus’ that supports core services, powering among others the portal website that shows the value of EOSC and all profiles on EOSC” remarked Owen Appleton, EGI Foundation. Service Providers were also at the focus of the Service Providers Forum session that described the EOSC-hub service providers interaction possibilities and collected further feedback on how to improve the service provider participation in EOSC. The EOSC-hub Technical Workshop also tackled common service specifications and the EOSC-hub roadmap and next steps together with the EOSC Portal - focus on requirements collection session.
Landscape and policies
The Issues in Cross-Border Consumption of Resources in EOSC session addressed issues of relevance to the EOSC Shared Resources, an important element of the Federating Core proposed by EOSC-hub. The discussion on the challenges involved in cross-border service provision recognised that whilst financial incentives to share public services across borders may be limited or lacking, a case can be made for providing services across borders based on user demand for trustworthy (including sustained) services, access to which would enhance European research excellence. A shared commitment to the European “greater good” could potentially result in services being provided across borders if sufficient trust were built amongst member states.
The geographical aspect was also further analysed in the Innovation from the EOSC regional projects session where the EOSC regional projects (EOSC Nordic, EOSC Synergy, EOSC Pillar and NI4OS) discussed the need of EOSC on regional level.
Discussions went beyond the geographical aspects of a federation with the session on Security coordination & policy that addressed the other challenging aspects of a federation such as confidentiality, integrity and availability. The session addresses the entire spectrum of these challenges, from reactive security incident response, to proactive risk planning, handling vulnerabilities, and establishing and maintaining trust across many administrative domains. One of the recommendations was aside from maintaining baseline policies that ensure security in EOSC, a Computer Security Incident Response Team would need to be set up to handle security incidents.
Supporting the research communities
A number of sessions highlighted use cases that saw the practical application of EOSC across various disciplines and types of services. The Impact of EOSC-hub on science communities session featured various thematic services covering structural biology, humanities and social sciences, climate change, and others. The general remark was that the usage of EOSC resources can be boosted only when the issue of the sustainability model of EOSC can be solved.
Linked to that discussion, the session on Business Models & Procurement aimed at collecting input for the report on business model analysis for procuring services in the EOSC that EOSC-hub is preparing (October 2020). The report investigates potential mechanisms for researchers to access the results of procured services free at the point of use, illustrated by real-life case studies to inform the Sustainability WG on key learning points as the legal entity develops the future operating model of EOSC. During the session the usage of vouchers as a way to start using cloud resources was discussed and considered an efficient instrument provided that the cross-border value added tax issues are addressed. Opportunities were also explored in aggregating demand for procurement.
To give communities an idea of the wide range of services currently available via the EOSC marketplace, the EOSC-Hub Common services - opportunities for usage and integration session gave an overview of the distributed computation and orchestration services, of the foundational FAIR data services and of the long-term preservation and sensitive data services currently orderable via the EOSC Marketplace.
The closing plenary also focused on the users, showcasing two demonstrations on how the services integrated and provided by EOSC-hub are impacting society at large. Prof. Richard Lucas from Aberystwyth University described how EOSC-hub is supporting the EuroGEOSS initiative while Prof. Alexandre Bonvin of Utrecht University highlighted how the EOSC-hub resources have empowered the WeNMR services supporting structural biologists work during the COVID-19 emergency.
Engaging the Private Sector
The EOSC & Industry session highlighted the achievements of the EOSC Digital Innovation Hub (DIH) which has become a catalyst for initiating industrial partnerships within the EOSC. Several DIH pilots presented how they have been able to use EOSC resources to innovate.
Various training sessions were also organised such as ARGO Monitoring Service training session for Service Providers, EOSC-hub AAI training for communities, EOSC portal service onboarding - Training for EOSC projects
The Colocated Workshops
The EOSC-hub Week also attracted a number of colocated events bringing in audiences from outside the EOSC-hub project. FAIRsFAIR organised a session on FAIR certification of repositories and other data services that tackled topics such as the FAIR certification of repositories and other data services, FAIR assessment for data services and FAIR-enabling repository data services.
The EOSC regional projects also provided a geographic flavour to the EOSC-hub Week with their workshop, National Policy Developments Supporting EOSC Implementation that discussed proposals for EOSC readiness indicators measuring on a national level. The Extreme Data Cloud Workshop presented the XDC software released by the project.