Final ENVRI week: Helsinki, Finland

ENVRI week is a week dedicated to Environmental Research Infrastructures. It is organised twice a year. ENVRI week hosts ENVRIplus project related sessions as well as several other sessions targeting different groups of stakeholders.

The 8th and final ENVRI week will be organized in Helsinki, Finland from 25th until 29th of March 2019.

Registration is open and the draft programme is available online.

Find out more information.

10 reasons why you should work at EGI

This blog post is published on behalf of our colleague Bruce Becker

Here is what Bruce has to say about working at EGI:


I’m here to tell you that you should apply for this job, because it’s one of the best things anyone can do. How do I know? Well, it’s actually my job – for the next few weeks at least. After that, it’s going to belong to someone awesome, maybe someone like you!

I joined the EGI Foundation at the beginning of March 2018 after collaborating closely with it since its inception. As co-ordinator of the African regional infrastructure which peered with it, I have always believed in the mission of the federation, and worked towards its vision and goals. When the opportunity came to join the Foundation in 2018, I jumped at it. For the last year, I have personally experienced some of the most stimulating challenges of my career so far and have my colleagues to thank for that.

I had planned on staying at EGI for a long time, and had made several investments in it. However, wheels were set in motion in my personal life which drive me down a road that diverges from EGI and indeed the entire field of research infrastructures. The decision to leave EGI was a very heavy one to make, and the parting is sad, but that is a story for a different time.

If you’re like me though – someone who has spent years at the convergence of research and the digital technologies that enable it, someone who cares deeply about the experience of research communities and the platforms which they use, someone who believes that as research infrastructure engineers we can have nice things… hell, we should have nice things, and there’s no reason that we can’t have nice things – then you should drop whatever you’re doing and send your CV now.

The job description states you will:

… be responsible within the operations team for ensuring the EGI Federation delivers quality and trusted services that meet the technical and security requirements of its users, while ensuring its technical infrastructure is always current and deploys state of the art technology.

But actually, it’s so much more than that.

Here’s why:

Work at the nexus of European e-Infrastructure

As part of the European Open Science Cloud, EGI is one of the entities driving the cutting edge of global research. EOSC is the the next step in decades of development in the federation of e-infrastructures, and this step is a big one. The services operated by EOSC member institutes will be delivered to millions of European researchers, and co-ordinating its development is a gigantic task. In the EGI Operations team you will be exposed to colleagues from a wide variety of domains, from data, cloud, networking and security infrastructure, to collaboration tools, identity federations, and more. There is probably no better place to work if you want to contribute to the development of the future of European Open Science in a concrete fashion.

Be amazed

EGI and EOSC support some of the most impactful research done anywhere in the world. You will be working to deliver services to projects which make you go “damn that’s awesome”. If you have a natural inclination to wonder at the beauty of the universe, if you care about climate change, biodiversity, human health and biology, or just want to catch an epic wave, you won’t be disappointed. This environment is special – you will be working at the interface of people, technology and science. The breadth of intellectual enterprise you will come into contact with will be constant source of stimulation and inspiration – if you’re into that kind of thing.

Work with the best people in the field

The EGI Foundation collaborates with peer infrastructures and external resource providers from across the world. The EGI Operations team is responsible within EGI for the smooth inter-operation of many services from across these infrastructures and the co-ordination external resources from providers across the world. You will be in one of the biggest professional networks in the research world, working with peers across Europe and the globe. These peers, like you, have almost uniformly dedicated their careers to the vision of delivering professional services to researchers in the pursuit of the cutting edge of science. The environment is challenging, stimulating and rewarding.

Put skills to work

The EGI Foundation is small and focused. Everyone is senior and everyone contributes all the time, often across teams. It is inevitable that during the course of your career you pick up niche skills and specific interests that you realise you happen to be good at. Often, at bigger employers, self-expression via those skills and interests is discouraged because it’s “not part of the job description”, and this can be an extremely frustrating situation. EGI has 5 small teams: management and finance, user and community support, operations co-ordination, communications, and policy development. In an organisation that counts just over 20 people, there are no silos. You are expected to contribute where you can, with whatever skills you have, outside of your core competency.

Work in a process-driven environment

Yes, EGI is small, but the federation it is responsibile for is huge, and the scope of projects it is involved in is impressive. The reason it functions so efficiently is thanks to the organisation’s process-driven nature. The EGI Foundation has obtained several certifications for quality (ISO 9001:2015) and IT service delivery (ISO/IEC 20000-1:2011). Internally, the Foundation runs a tight ship, with all processes defined and executed clearly, and continually improved. It is concise, transparent and practical and puts everyone on the same page. When you come to work in the morning, and tasks land on your desk, you know where they come from, what to do about them and most importantly why they are important.

Ops is notoriously about playing fireman, and the trope about constantly putting out fires across the infrastructure is somewhat true even in our case. However, we play safety inspector too, continuously checking our process, improving it, decreasing the day-to-day cognitive load, allowing the team to work in a calm and rewarding environment.

Work in a service-oriented environment

Everything in EGI is a service, and all services are managed according to the FitSM standard. This is the same standard that pervades our industry and EGI is not only one of places which offers training in it, but has fully adopted it as a means to build EOSC. Developing and operating services means having professional relationships with customers and providers alike, having empathy users, and putting their experience first. All services are in one or more catalogues, and executing and improving processes for managing and operating them are part of your responsibility. In the Operations team, you will need to work closely with service and product owners of the EGI Internal Service Catalogue amongst others.

Shoulder responsibility

As part of the Ops team, and taking over my position, you will likely be given some responsibility for part of the service management system. I was handed the capacity management process, and worked during my time there to implement something that was both good and made sense for EGI and EOSC. The same is true for all of the processes – people own them. With excellent direction from the executive team, you are entrusted with the responsibility and authority to build this thing together. Understanding that decisions you make, input you give and work you do has an effect makes you consider the ramifications – this is not an academic exercise, this is not a trial run, people are depending on you. Shouldering this responsibility personally, and understanding that everyone else in the organisation does so too is an incredibly enriching and rewarding experience.

Love your day job

EGI is small, and spread out across the expanse of Europe. Most of the time members work at their remote stations and rarely get to be together all in the same place. Remote work is not for everyone, and although it affords many benefits, it takes a special discipline to consider those “not in the building”. If you join the small core of staff that works in the Amsterdam office however, be prepared for a very special experience. If, like me, you end up working remote, be prepared to feel 100% part of the team, irrespective of your physical location.

I had a personal relationship with almost everyone in that office, stretching back years and they weren’t just “so-and-so from xyz team”. I’ve never been a great one for mixing social and professional activities, preferring to keep them separate, but EGI definitely changed this. Be prepared to work with real people who bring their whole selves to work every day.

Have nice things

Cloud computing infrastructures have matured and their attraction is mesmerising. There are at least four huge private platforms for consumers to choose from, and in some sense EOSC is competing with these. However there is also a Cambrian Explosion of creativity under way in the computing world. The Landscape of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation gives an impressive view of tools at our disposal for building a better infrastructure. We have partner projects such as DEEP and XDC pushing the boundaries of what research clouds can do and bringing state of the art software to production.

Patterns like DevOps are the new normal. We are coming to appreciate the importance of instrumentation and telemetry, the need for observability and how that improves our understanding of our users’ experience of our services. This isn’t just about keeping up with industry trends. It certainly isn’t about out-competing peer infrastructures – this is antithetical to EGI’s mission. We succeed and fail together. It is about building and delivering the best platform possible for research.

During my time at EGI, we quickly worked to implement improvements in the middleware component delivery pipeline, improve the software-defined deployment scenarios, product compliance and security test profiles, machine-readable product descriptions, and more. We started working on continuous delivery of components, smoother user experience and simplifying the way people discover and access these services.

All with the goal of delivering value – more reliably, safer, faster… better.

Get Paid

These are 9 reasons why working for EGI is probably the best thing you can do right now. If you need another one, it’s simple: the pay and perks are very competitive.

PULSAR: the first XDC software release is out

The eXtreme-DataCloud project has announced the general availability of its first public software release, code-named Pulsar.

This release comes after an initial phase of requirement gathering which involved several European scientific collaborations in areas as diverse as life sciences, astrophysics, high-energy physics, photon science and clinical research.

This resulted in the development of new or improved functionalities of a set of software components, some of them already available in the European Open Science Cloud ecosystem, addressing important topics like federation of storage resources, smart caching solutions, policy driven data management based on Quality of Service, data lifecycle management, optimised data management based on access patterns.

See the full press release.

ENVRI-FAIR: a new cluster project of environmental RIs

ENVRI-FAIR, a new cluster project of environmental RIs, started on January 1st 2019. The project supports the collaboration of environmental and Earth system research infrastructures and is the connection of ENVRIs to the European Open Science Cloud.

ENVRI-FAIR is a four-year project running from January 2019 until December 2022.

The overarching goal is for all participating RIs to build a set of FAIR data services which enhances the productivity of researchers, supports innovation, enables data- and knowledge-based decisions and connects the ENVRI cluster to the European Open Science Cloud.

The complete set of thematic data services and tools provided by the ENVRI cluster is exposed via EOSC-hub, a project coordinated by the EGI Foundation.

See more information on the ENVRI-FAIR project.


ENVRI community at the EGU General Assembly 2019

The EGU General Assembly 2019, taking place in Vienna on 7–12 April 2019, will bring together geoscientists from all over the world to one meeting covering all disciplines of the Earth, planetary, and space sciences. The deadline for abstract submission is 10 January 2019, 13:00 CET.

ENVRI community booth

The ENVRI Research Infrastructures will again join their forces and increase their visibility by organising a third joint ENVRI community booth. The booth will serve as a meeting point for the community, but also place where the scientists attending the EGU can learn more about the Environmental and Earth system Research Infrastructures and the services they are providing. The Research Infrastructures will present themselves and their services through the talks organised around challenges and other related topics.

Meet the ENVRI community at the booths 2 and 3, right next to the entrance to EGU venue.

The ENVRI community-related sessions and Townhall meetings are available online. Abstract submission is open. Make sure you follow the ENVRI booth hashtags: #ENVRIsolutions #ENVRIcomm.

Call for papers: 4th International Conference on Internet of Things, Big Data and Security

The 4th International Conference on Internet of Things, Big Data and Security will take place in Heraklion, Greece, from 2 to 4 May 2019.

The conference looks to address the issues surrounding internet of things (IoT) devices, the services they may offer, including efficient, effective and secure analysis of the data IoT produces using machine learning and other advanced techniques.

Big Data (BD) has core values of volume, velocity, variety and veracity. After collecting much data from IoT, BD can be jointly used with machine learning, AI, statistical and other advanced techniques, models and methods, which can create values for people and organisations adopting it.

IoTBDS is organized in 7 major tracks:

1 – Big Data Research

2 – Emerging Services and Analytics

3 – Internet of Things (IoT) Fundamentals

4 – Internet of Things (IoT) Applications

5 – Big Data for Multi-discipline Services

6 – Security, Privacy and Trust

7 – IoT Technologies

Upcoming deadlines:

Regular Paper Submission Extension: January 4, 2019
Regular Paper Authors Notification: February 7, 2019
Regular Paper Camera Ready and Registration: February 21, 2019

See more details on the conference.

Webinar: The EGI Marketplace – a streamlined approach to accessing advanced computing services

The webinar “The EGI Marketplace: A streamlined approach to accessing advanced computing services” will take place on 6 December at 12:00 pm and targets the Earth Observation community, with a focus on the NextGEOSS project partners.

The EGI Marketplace is an online platform for accessing and ordering advanced computing services to make research and innovation happen.

During the webinar, our colleagues Diego Scardaci and Björn Backeberg will introduce the marketplace and will provide an overview of the EGI service catalogue. The webinar will also feature a live demo on how to order services via the Marketplace and explain back-end processes.

NextGEOSS has a number of pilots using EGI Cloud Compute resources. NextGEOSS core services are hosted in the EGI cloud, for example the CKAN cluster and the user management portal. Hervé Caumont from Terradue will give a presentation about Terradue’s experience using the EGI cloud as part of the NextGEOSS project using one of the pilots as an example use case.

Webinar agenda:

12:00 – Welcome Bente Lilja Bye, host, NextGEOSS
12:05 – NextGEOSS Cloud Computing needs managed by Terradue: key benefits of the new EGI Marketplace, Hervé Caumont (Terradue)
12:10 – Overview of the EGI Service Catalogue, Diego Scardaci (EGI Foundation)
12:20 – How to order a service through the EGI Marketplace and what happens in the back-end, Bjorn Backeberg (EGI Foundation)

More information and how to register.

The European Ocean Observing System Conference: a summary

This blog article is published on behalf of our colleague Björn Backeberg, who represented the EOSC-hub project at the EOOS conference in Brussels. EOSC-hub is coordinated by the EGI Foundation.

The European Ocean Observing System (EOOS) Conference took place in Brussels, from 21 to 23 November 2018. During the conference, I had the opportunity to present the poster “The European Open Science Cloud to Ocean Monitoring and Forecasting Systems” on behalf of the EOSC-hub project and as one of the themes of the event – “From standalone to integrated ocean and coastal observing platforms”.

The conference was successful in bringing together ocean observing communities, public authorities, industries such as fisheries, energy, transport, and the wider society.

One of the key aims of the meeting was to address the fragmentation of the ocean observing community and to promote better coordination between them. EOOS is a key role-player in this regard and recently published its strategy and implementation plan, where they envision a sustainable ocean measurements by making the observing system a public utility.

Here are a few home-take messages of the event:

  • Data collection is at the foundation of the whole marine knowledge value chain. Ocean science & observation can serve communities as long as the data is made publicly available and published.
  • Global challenges are huge – this pushes us to rely more on our ocean resources than ever before.
  • A lot of open questions remain but we now have the infrastructure, know-how and instruments to build on what exists and improve dialogue.
  • Focus on “NOST” – Network what we have, Open access, Smart equipment, Transfer knowledge.
  • The meeting concluded with a call to action to move towards a more integrated, transparent and coordinated approach in implementing the European Ocean Observing System.

EOSC-hub has a dedicated Marine Research Competence Centre that is developing a platform where scientists and users can easily access a large volume of reference marine observations. By mobilising European research and e-Infrastructure to provide cross-disciplinary services during all phases of the research data lifecycle, the project aims to accelerate a transition to Open Science and Open Innovation.

Key elements in this process are:

  • Simplifying access
  • Remove fragmentation and improve interoperability
  • Facilitate open access
  • Increase innovation

Find out more about the competence centre.

Have a look at the EOSC-hub poster for EOOS.


EOSC in practice: WeNMR demonstrator

The WeNMR suite for structural biology was the focus of one of the demonstrators presented during the EOSC launch event in Vienna, on 23 November.

The EOSC launch event demonstrates the importance of EOSC for the advancement of research in Europe and introduces the new EOSC Portal. The EOSC Portal provides access to data, services and resources. It is a source of up-to-date information about the EOSC initiative, including best practices, governance and user stories.

The team behind WeNMR develops data analytic tools for life scientists by integrating structural biology software, compute and data. Their online services are used by thousands of researchers studying molecular forces and biomolecular interactions to guide drug design, treatments and diagnostics. To give an example, HADDOCK has over 11500 registered users worldwide and in 2017-2018 was acknowledged in 350 papers.

The WeNMR tools rely on EGI’s High-Throughput Compute service and are now available now through the EOSC Portal.

7th ENVRI Week

ENVRI week is a week dedicated to Environmental Research Infrastructures, organised twice a year. ENVRI week hosts ENVRIplus project related sessions as well as several other sessions targeting different groups of stakeholders.

The 7th ENVRI week is taking place in Riga, Latvia, from 5 to 9 November, 2018.

The event will host an open ENVRI community meeting on November 5. All the environmental Research Infrastructures, e-infrastructures as well as other relevant RI networks, projects and clusters are invited to attend the meeting. See more information here.

Find out more about ENVRI week.