NeIC 2018-2020 strategy implementation plan

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Approved by NeIC board on 2017-12-08.


Background and Context

In December 2015, the NeIC Board agreed on the current strategy, see NeIC 2016-2020 strategy and an accompanying strategy implementation plan NeIC 2016-2020 Strategy Implementation Plan. That strategy implementation plan also took into account the Nordic eScience Action Plan 2.0 that NordForsk has been requested by the Nordic Council of Minister to implement, as well as current ongoing NeIC activities to ensure continuity.

NeIC mainly runs activities through projects using an established model of NeIC core funding and partner funding. Core funding consists of national provider and NordForsk components while partner funding is purely national (provider or other).

The previous strategy implementation described activities and milestones related to four specific focus areas. Today, several of these activities have been implemented and milestones have been reached, and the below is the revised Strategy Implementation Plan 2018- 2020.

NeIC Strategy

This section describes the Focus Areas and important milestones of the strategy, and gives details for the major initiatives.

Vision (Where)

NeIC is a global role model for cross-border distributed and sustainable e-infrastructure services.

Strategy 2020 (How)

Pool and Share

Enhance the productivity of researchers in the Nordic region beyond national efforts through new services, pooling competencies and sharing the resources of national e-infrastructure providers. Strengthen partnerships and prospects for long-term funding through active stakeholder dialogue to promote sustainable services.

Mission (Why)

Accelerate development and provisioning of cost-effective, best-in-class e-infrastructure services beyond national capabilities.

Values (Guiding our work)

The core values governing all of NeIC's activities are:

  • NeIC services and development will be motivated by providing added value to researchers.
  • NeIC will be a reliable partner displaying integrity, transparency, and accountability in all processes.
  • NeIC will strive to be open; to new ideas and opportunities, and to its outputs in terms of knowledge, tools and services.
  • NeIC will strive for continuous improvement in all aspects of its operation.
  • NeIC will give priority to stakeholder engagement.

Focus Areas

The strategy will be implemented through four Focus Areas (FAs). Each Focus Area has its own set of milestones, as described below.

FA-1. Pool Competencies

Training programme coordination is established, some competence needs (e.g. data management) have been identified and NeIC has a new HR policy. There is need for operationalisation and targeted actions.

a. Map skills, identify and prioritize needs.
  • Report on skills for the Nordic e-infrastructure community in 2018.
b. Coordinate and support NeIC and cross-border training programmes.
  • Streaming/screencasts support guidelines for events in 2018.
  • Online training material collection in 2018.
  • Networking support package pilot in 2018.
  • Event management service in pilot use in 2018.
  • Event management service in production in 2019.
  • Report on training programme in 2019.
c. Make NeIC more attractive for competent personnel.
  • Monitoring routine for HR policy implementation in 2018.
  • KPIs for HR policy implementation in 2019.
d. Data Management.
  • A proposal for data management collaboration in 2018.
  • A common Nordic activity on data management in 2019.

FA-2. Share Resources

A dedicated resource sharing project is established and must be continued in order to make progress on the involved challenges.

a. Create framework agreement (scope, CPU/storage)
  • Framework agreement with national providers in 2019.
b. Establish enabling processes & technologies.
  • Report on resource balancing in 2018.
  • Policies and technologies facilitating authentication and authorisation of Nordic users in 2019.
  • Federated accounting system for shared resources in 2019.
c. New services.
  • New services offered cross-border in 2018.
  • Mechanisms to disseminate information on services in 2019.
  • Report on the use of the service offerings in 2019.

FA-3. Secure Long-Term Funding

Long-term funding (throughout 2022) from Norway secured and we need to target remaining countries and NordForsk. The work needed to secure funding has increased significantly from the start of the strategy period.

a. Secure long-term funding from remaining principal partners.
  • Application/request to DK for long-term funding to the national funding authority at the agreed level.
  • Application/request to FI for long-term funding to the national funding authority at the agreed level.
  • Application/request to IS for long-term funding to the national funding authority at the agreed level.
  • Application/request to SE for long-term funding to the national funding authority at the agreed level.
  • Application/request for long-term funding to NordForsk at the agreed level.
b. Other partner funding.
  • Mapping and concepts for other partner funding.
c. Strengthen capacity to secure long-term funding.
  • Define process to prepare and manage funding proposals.
d. Develop 2020+ strategy.
  • Gathering and evaluation of input in 2018.
  • Gap analysis in 2018
  • Strategy update in consultation with stakeholders in 2019.
  • Implementation plan, including impact analysis plan, in 2020.

FA-4. Strengthen Stakeholder Dialogue

New potential partnerships that can support long-term funding needs to be explored and international visibility must be increased to support the vision of a global role model.

a. Stakeholder and partnership monitoring.
  • Engagement activities monitored, 2018-2020.
b. Engagement with prospective partners.
  • Open call for proposals.
  • Meetings with potential partners to explore synergies.
c. Engagement with international stakeholders.
  • Meetings with international stakeholders to present NeIC.
  • Presentations at international meetings.
c. Communication plan that supports the vision.
  • Propose a communication plan in 2018.
  • Propose an updated communication plan in 2019.

The Nordic eScience Action Plan

The Nordic eScience action plan has ten actions, five of which relates to e-Infrastructure. These actions support the general aims of pooling competencies, and sharing resources (FA-1 and FA-2). The implementation of the e-Infrastructure actions provide an opportunity for NeIC to secure long-term funding (FA-3), at the same time providing a platform for dialogue with major stakeholders. These five e-Infrastructure actions are

Action 6: Nordic Sharing and Exchange of e-Infrastructure Resources

A Nordic framework for sharing and exchanging computing and data storage resources will be implemented. This will build on federating authentication, authorisation and accounting structures and be integrated into international initiatives. Mechanisms for resource exchange, compliant with national rules and regulations, will be implemented. This action provides an essential foundation for the enhanced Nordic research collaboration described in other actions in this Action Plan.

Action 7: A Nordic Federated Cloud

Cloud computing has become an established paradigm for running services on external infrastructure, where virtually unlimited capacity can be dynamically allocated to suit the current needs of scientific communities and where new instances of a service can be deployed within a short time frame. This is an emerging paradigm also in the research sector. A common Nordic approach could mitigate duplication of efforts and benefit from scale and increased elasticity, thereby offering computing resources to Nordic researchers in a flexible manner. Nordic federated cloud services for research will be developed and integrated into relevant international initiatives.

Action 8: Nordic High Performance Computing Collaboration

NeIC has coordinated recent evaluations of the Nordic HPC project and the Nordic use of European PRACE resources. These projects have explored different modes of international collaboration on large-scale computing, and the evaluations have revealed a potential for strengthened Nordic collaboration on high-end computing investments and operation. A science case and a business model for Nordic HPC collaboration should be developed, taking national assessments as the starting point. Improved Nordic HPC collaboration could pave the way for synchronised or shared investments, thereby providing more researchers with access to the high-end resources and enabling them to take a lead within the field of environmentally-friendly data centre facilities.

Action 9: Nordic e-Infrastructure for Sensitive Data

The Nordic countries have major roles in several life science infrastructures, such as the ESFRI projects ELIXIR and BBMRI. They also have high-quality health registries for research, as has been demonstrated through the NordForsk NORIA-net on registry data and by several other groups and task forces. e-Infrastructure services enabling responsible provisioning of access to sensitive data will be developed to enable exploitation of these research opportunities and further stimulate collaboration in these areas. The infrastructure will enable storage, computation and responsible sharing of anonymised research data, in accordance with legal terms of use and in close collaboration with data owners. This action will build on the framework for authentication and authorisation developed under Action 6.

Action 10: Nordic infrastructure for Scientific Software

Nordic groups have trademarked several scientific software packages and made critical contributions to many others. By ensuring a leading role in selected software initiatives, the Nordic countries can influence the relevant maintenance strategies, thereby catering to the interests of Nordic user communities. Nordic efforts will be supported for selected scientific software packages and for providing the basis for coordinated participation in the Horizon 2020 e-Infrastructure calls for Centres of Excellence in scientific software.

Finally, note that on-going work in NeIC on data management collaboration may support the proposed Action 5: Nordic Pilot Projects within Open Science. NeIC received funding from NordForsk in 2015 for data infrastructure supporting open science.

Funding Contributions from NordForsk 2013-2015

Since the establishment of NeIC within the NordForsk system, NeIC has received annual funding contributions under the NordForsk action plan.

  1. In 2013, the contribution to Nordic e-Infrastructure Collaboration was 4 MNOK.
  2. In 2014, NeIC received 5 MNOK for Nordic e-Infrastructure services for targeted user communities in the area of cross-border collaboration and e-Infrastructure services for ESFRI projects with Nordic dimension and for NeGI Centres of Excellence.
  3. A further contribution in 2014 of 5 MNOK to a Nordic computing resources pool. This involves a virtual pool of computing resources for use by Nordic research communities. The pool will compensate for imbalances that are induced by Nordic use of nationally owned resources and it will work as an incentive for the national e-Infrastructure providers in piloting the concrete sharing of e-resources.
  4. A contribution of 0,5 MNOK in 2014 to Cost-efficient, environmentally friendly Nordic high performance computing collaboration aimed at following up on the evaluation with a feasibility study to investigate the opportunities for a next phase of collaboration in this area.
  5. In 2015, NeIC received 5 MNOK from NordForsk to e-Infrastructure supporting Nordic Research Infrastructures. The goal for NeIC was to develop e-Infrastructure services in collaboration with national e-Infrastructure organizations and national research infrastructure nodes.
  6. NeIC received 3 MNOK in 2015 to facilitate flexible HPC resource sharing between the countries, and link the national infrastructures to European HPC infrastructure.
  7. Data infrastructure supporting open science. NeIC received 2 MNOK to enable cost-efficient data sharing between the national data management initiatives through competence sharing and joint development of services.
  8. A further 2 MNOK was awarded by NordForsk (The NeIC Board recommended in Item 14-18 that NordForsk supports ARC on the condition that the Nordugrid consortium seeks closer collaboration with NeIC) to support ARC middleware maintenance, and NeIC was requested by the NordForsk Board to coordinate this action and to advise on continued support from 2017 as part of the NeIC strategy (2017-2020).

The funding from NordForsk has been allocated in accordance with Table 1. The resource pool has been difficult to establish, in part due to immaturity of the resource sharing mechanisms between the countries. Thus, these funds may alternatively be reallocated to cloud collaboration, to establish the main components of sharing mechanisms for federated cloud resources. As Table 1 shows, there is still unallocated funding available for Data infrastructure supporting open science (2 MNOK) and HPC and resource sharing (2 MNOK). It is suggested to propagate these funds into the next generation of major NeIC activities, as will be described in the following.

Table 1: Allocations of NordForsk funding to NeIC projects 2013-2015.
Total Tryggve Glenna Cognitus B2Share Unallocated
NeIC '13  4
HPC '14 0.5  0.5
Resource pool '14 5  5
User communities '14 4 1
Data Infra for open science '15 2  2
HPC and resource sharing '15 3  3
Supporting Nordic RIs '15  5
NeIC core funding 5.7  5.7
Total project cost NeIC 30.2  13 5.7 0.5 1 10

Next generation NeIC initiatives

NordForsk’s mandate to implement the Nordic eScience Action Plan provides an unprecedented opportunity to for strategic cooperation with NeIC. The new NeIC strategy explicitly mentions the focus area resource sharing, which is one of the proposed eScience actions. As argued above, all the five e-Infrastructure actions of the eScience plan will support NeIC in the implementation of the new strategy.

For the new strategy period (2016-2020), it is suggested that NeIC organises natural parts of its activity to correspond with the eScience plan. This will align NeIC activities with funding streams and will simplify reporting. It is proposed to continue the data management collaboration, which is related to “Action 5: Nordic Pilot Projects within Open Science”. This activity will be merged into a future resource sharing activity. NeIC will also continue the core activity of operating a high-quality Nordic Tier-1 service, as well as continue the engagement started in 2015 with the environmental science communities (including the E3DS project in support of EISCAT). The main activities that are expected in the strategy period are given in Table 2. In Table 3, current NeIC activities (projects) are mapped into the focus areas of the new strategy as well as into the eScience action plan. It is seen that there is a good fit to the eScience plan. In general, it is argued that all collaborative projects involve engagement with stakeholders (provider organisations or user communities) and that they also pool competencies across borders. Furthermore, several projects involve sharing a range of resources. No projects directly support long-term funding, although successful projects may do so indirectly.

Table 2: Proposed NeIC Projects 2016-2020
1 Nordic Tier-1 operations
2 Nordic Sharing and Exchange of e-Infrastructure Resources (A-6), including Nordic High Performance Computing Collaboration (A-8) and data management collaboration
3 A Nordic Federated Cloud (A-7)
4 Nordic e-Infrastructure for Sensitive Data (A-9)
5 Nordic e-Infrastructure for Scientific Software (A-10)
6 EISCAT_3D Support Project

Table 3: Current NeIC Initiatives by Focus Area and eScience Actions
Nordic Sharing and Exchange of e-Infrastructure Resources (A-6) A Nordic Federated Cloud (A-7) Nordic High Performance Computing Collaboration (A-8) Nordic e-Infrastructure for Sensitive Data (A-9) Nordic Infrastructure for Scientific Software
FA-1 Pool Competencies NT1, ENV, BMS, HPC, E3DS, DATA, Tryggve, Glenna  Glenna, ENV, BMS  HPC Tryggve KISS
FA-2 Share Resources NT1, ENV, BMS, HPC, E3DS, DATA, Tryggve, Glenna Glenna, ENV, BMS HPC Tryggve KISS
FA-3 Secure Long-Term Funding NT-1
FA-4 Strengthen Stakeholder Dialogue KISS, ENV, BMS, E3DS, Tryggve HPC Tryggve