A fascinating insight on hybrid cloud and other initiatives in a publicly-funded research organisation, from Bob Jones, Head of the Openlab Project, CERN. Bob is participating on a panel session at Public Sector Cloud World Forum entitled Regional Roundup: Reviewing European Cloud Initiatives for Societal Applications. Download the brochure here. Public Sector organisations can claim a free pass.

Bob Jones, CERNWhich opportunities, from your point of view, can cloud computing bring to the public sector?

Cloud computing will allow public authorities to revitalise their in-house IT systems with opportunities to rationalise their installations and off-load demand to commercial cloud service providers. While the initial interest is to reduce costs, further opportunities quickly arise by which we can expand the services we offer and their impact. In particular, cloud computing will allow us to generalise the access to our data sets so that the results of publicly funded research can have a greater impact on the economy and society as a whole. By working with commercial cloud services suppliers and networks of SMEs, such datasets can be exploited to develop new value added services for a range of business sectors.

How does your organisation plan to leverage cloud computing in the next 12 months?

At a technical level, we have been working with companies such as Rackspace via the CERN openlab project (http://openlab.cern.ch) and making important contributions to the OpenStack software suite which is used to manage the resources in our two data centres. We expect to see the positive impact of many of these extensions and improvements  in the services we offer to our users over the next 12 months.

Through our work with the Helix Nebula initiative (http://www.helix-nebula.eu), we have been able to deploy a hybrid cloud system linking our publicly funded resources to commercial cloud services. This now provides an integrated system where we can expand the nature and capacity of services available on-demand to meet our users expectations.

By working closely with commercial cloud services providers, research organisations including CERN, EMBL and ESA have provided the stimulus for the development of the Helix Nebula marketplace (http://hnx.helix-nebula.eu). We expect this platform to expand in 2015 with new services, suppliers and procuring organisations. In particular we will be working towards what we refer to as ‘Information as a Service’ which builds on the datasets to establish an ecosystem of services which will potentially accelerate our research activities.

A key step now is to share our experiences and build a network of publicly funded research organisations that can work together to jointly procure innovative cloud services.

What are the main steps in building success and managing failure in public sector cloud implementations?

We have invested significant resources to investigate cloud computing technologies and their impact on our users, which has allowed us to develop a deployment plan that has ensured uninterrupted quality of service. The hybrid cloud model we see as being particularly attractive for the public sector since it gives us the freedom to choose which services, taking into account aspects such as policy, cost and maturity of the market, are offered on in-house resources or externally via commercial providers.

Why are you speaking at the Public Sector Cloud World Forum and what do you hope to get out from your time at the event?

I see the Public Sector Cloud World Forum as the occasion to share experiences with representatives from various domains within the public sector as well as cloud service providers and this will surely help shape our strategy for the future.

Join in the debate with Bob and the rest of our fantastic speaker line-up at Public Sector Cloud World Forum, 2-3 December, Kensington Close Hotel, London.

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