The four-year pan-European Open Clouds for Research Environments Cloud Framework (OCRE) launched in January 2021, with the aim of accelerating the adoption of public cloud in the Research and Education community.
Over 185 contracts have now been signed by UK institutions across a range of platforms, with projected savings to the sector in excess of £10 million, a testament to the on-going success of the framework. 26 out of the 40 eligible countries are consuming services, with the UK seeing the largest projected spend.
Research Adoption Funding
In addition to operating the framework, the OCRE project received EU funding to issue vouchers to institutions who could clearly demonstrate the adoption and effectiveness of commercial cloud services in research.
The distribution of cloud adoption funding was a key milestone in OCRE’s goal of piloting a digital single market for cloud and digital services for European research. Two rounds of funding calls saw a total of £6.2 million awarded to 32 projects across Europe, including three in the UK.
The current IaaS+ framework expires on 30 November 2024 and GÉANT is busy establishing the strategy and preparing the procurement for its successor, to ensure the next version builds on OCRE’s achievements and meets the requirements of the sector.
To this end, GÉANT is currently running a cloud strategy forum with two key objectives:
- To provide a well-organised framework for strategic advice to key choices to be made in the joint re-procurement of cloud infrastructure agreements:
- Formally anchored to the National Research and Education Networks (NRENs)
- Input to (and organisation of) collective dialogue with key strategic suppliers, platform providers and users
- To work on a collective framework for sourcing strategies for infrastructure-cloud, taking into account digital autonomy questions, and the question of build versus buy.
2023 Cloud Survey
As part of the planning, GÉANT conducted a Cloud Survey with NRENs and Research and Education institutions in March/April 2023. The survey addressed cloud infrastructure service usage in institutions, institutions’ cloud usage plans and needs for the future, obstacles to using the pan-European frameworks, as well as the additional support NRENs need for their institutions. Key findings from the 137 responses:
- Most of the respondents were either very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the services and the resellers of the OCRE Cloud Framework. Satisfaction with the resellers was slightly lower than with the services
- Most respondents (98%) plan to continue using such services in the future and 93% predicted an increase in consumption
- Security was the most interesting training topic for institutions and NRENs, followed by cost control for institutions.
We look forward to sharing more details about the successor to the OCRE cloud framework, including a potential new name, as it becomes available.