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CERN's European cloud computing mission

CERN's European cloud computing mission

Posting in Energy

Key research institutions will be working together to create a European cloud platform to handle growing demand for high-specification computing in research.

In collaboration with two other key research centres, CERN has announced the development of a European cloud platform in an attempt to cope with the rapidly rising demand for high-specification computer capacity, and to help scientists better analyze data streams.

CERN said that the rapid development of such a platform is becoming crucial. Data that is being generated by a number of its experiments, including the search for Higgs Boson, can only be analyzed effectively if a computer system is in place that can cope with such demand.

The partners joining CERN in the development include the European Space Agency and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory. CERN's physics lab, the base of the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) will also be heavily involved. As you can imagine, Big Data generated by these research centres has made the project urgent. Frédéric Hemmer, head of CERN's IT department said in a statement:

"CERN's computing capacity needs to keep up with the enormous amount of data coming from the Large Hadron Collider and we see Helix Nebula -- the Science Cloud as a great way of working with industry to meet this challenge."

The Paris-based European Space Agency (ESA) aims to set up an observation platform in order to collate and study satellite data for earthquakes and volcano research.

Based in Germany, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) wishes to use the European cloud to study large genome patterns. By studying such genetic matter, such as that found in mammals, these projects may give a wider glimpse in to evolution and biodiversity across living organisms.

In order to decode such genomic sequences, many laboratories across the world struggle -- due to the high-performance computing required.

The cloud will only be available in Europe, due to concerns in legality due to the U.S. Patriot Act. As the Patriot Act can force private data to be turned over to American authorities if the servers are based in U.S. territory, or in the case of web services a domain name is registered by a U.S. company, in order to prevent security concerns, connections to American services will remain severed.

The project has gained many backers and business partners. These include Atos, Capgemini, CloudSigma, Interoute, Logica, Orange Business Services, SAP, SixSq, Telefonica, Terradue, Thales, The Server Labs and T Systems, as well as the Cloud Security Alliance, the OpenNebula Project and the European Grid Infrastructure.

It will initially run as a pilot scheme across two years, in order to ascertain the cloud platform's suitability for such data analysis. If proven successful, it will then become available for government organisations to utilize.

Image credit: Johan Larsson

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Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure