The Blue-Cloud project is federating distributed marine data resources, computing platforms, and analytical services to better understand & manage the many aspects of ocean sustainability. In order to do so, a “Blue-Cloud technical framework” has been set-up, where leading marine data management infrastructures are federated with horizontal e-infrastructures to maximise the exploitation of data resources available from different sources.
The Blue-Cloud framework consists of two major technical components: a Blue-Cloud Data Discovery and Access service to serve federated discovery and access to blue data infrastructures, and a series of Blue-Cloud Virtual Research Environments (VRE) to provide computing platforms and analytical services facilitating the collaboration between researchers.
Each Blue-Cloud VRE includes services that facilitate collaboration between users, services supporting the execution of analytical tasks embedded in a distributed computing infrastructure, as well as services enabling the co-creation of entire Virtual Laboratories, aimed at realising open science-friendly working environments.
So far nine Blue-Cloud VREs have been set-up, developed by the Italian National Research Council (CNR), built on the D4Science infrastructure and the gCube open source technology, and offered via the Blue-Cloud Gateway which makes the services and Virtual Laboratories available. Thanks to Blue-Cloud, scientists and practitioners are able not only to easily access different sets of marine data but also to process and experiment with them via the analytical and visual tools made available by each demonstrator.
Each Blue-Cloud VRE Collaborative Framework features a set of useful services and components, enabling users to collaborate on an activity by sharing materials and communicating in smart and flexible ways.
Thanks to the Blue-Cloud VREs, users are able to further exploit the data collected and accessed via the Blue-Cloud Data Discovery and Access Service following a FAIR data (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) approach.
"These collaborative services support all the phases of typical research lifecycles and transparently inject practices aimed at making the entire process more transparent and repeatable without posing additional requirements for scientists, leading to a certain version of a research artefact." Massimiliano Assante (CNR)
The number of total users across Blue-Cloud VREs has constantly increased since the beginning of the project in October 2019, and its use has evolved as the project entered its more advanced stages. Today more than 300 users from the Blue-Cloud consortium and beyond have access to these services, and we expect this figure to increase as more and more VREs are open to external users.
"The Blue-Cloud VREs can target a wide range of end-users from coders to policy officers, as well as researchers, data analysts, environmental protection agencies, thanks to the various user-friendly ways to broadcast the results, such as code, notebooks, maps, or indicators." Cécile Nys (OceanScope/Ifremer - ODATIS)
Each one of the five Blue-Cloud demonstrators is developing VREs for the benefit of the wider community, in order to demonstrate Blue-Cloud’s potential in different fields of marine research, ranging from biodiversity to environmental science, as well as fisheries and aquaculture. As of today, eight Virtual Labs are being used in the framework of the Blue-Cloud demonstrators:
Several of these VREs have started operating for testing in different moments of 2020, while all of them will be officially launched in the course of 2021, welcoming marine researchers and stakeholders to test them and interact with the many functionalities and existing datasets made available via the Blue-Cloud framework through a single login.
“Thanks to the Rstudio component offered by the Blue-Cloud VRE, I was able to reduce the computing time from hours to minutes when running the model that quantifies the relative contributions of the drivers in phytoplankton dynamics, as part of the Zoo and Phytoplankton EOV Demonstrator”. Viviana Otero (Flanders Marine Institute - VLIZ)
Presence on the VREs began to grow since the summer of 2020, and especially in December when testing activities on the Marine Environmental Indicators, Zoo & Phytoplankton EOV Products demonstrator, and the Fisheries Atlas demonstrator started to intensify.
In 2021, we expect more and more researchers and other end-users to discover the expanding environment of Blue-Cloud, encouraging a collaborative effort for the FAIRisation of marine research data and the continuous improvement of these frameworks.
For more information on the technical development of the Blue-Cloud VRE, please read Deliverable 4.2 “Blue-Cloud VRE Common Facilities”
For more information on how to use the different VREs, read the Blue-Cloud Demonstrator User Handbook