SLALOM contributes to the debate on the European Open Science Cloud

SLALOM contributes to the debate on the European Open Science Cloud

Helix Nebula, Europe’s leading Public-Private Partnership for Cloud held an open day in Heidelberg, Germany on the 20th January 2016, inviting talks from providers, procurers and other actors in the value chain to contribute to developing a model for large scale procurement of compute resources by the likes of particle physicists CERN, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory and the European Space Agency. The day sought to converge on a model for the European Open Science Cloud that can be widely accepted by research infrastructures and their user communities.

SLALOM coordinator Daniel Field presented the work SLALOM has done in standardizing contracts and SLAs, and the value this can have in such a model: with a standard baseline contract that must be accepted by bidders, there is reduced risk of protracted negotiations or even the late notice withdrawal of otherwise preferred bids. With standardized SLAs the procurers can ensure comparability between competing bids.

Daniel stressed that the role of such standards was to set a minimum baseline on one hand, i.e. that acceptance of certain conditions was a requirement on bidders, whilst on the other hand to put forth a starting point on other less critical conditions. In this area there is no one size fits all, and both contracts and SLAs must vary according to various bidder requirements, particularly their own supply chains and what clauses they must float up to their customers. Nonetheless, establishing upfront the preferred position of the procurers is a way to avoid costs and risks further down the line.

Moreover, in the larger scheme and scale, such as that of the European Open Science Cloud, harmonization of all levels of the market around a standardized SLA and contract, such as SLALOM, will provide greater flexibility to the value chain and hence more innovative collaborations: Much of the content of the contract and SLA revolves around controlling risk. The lesser the divergence between what subcontractors in the supply chain offer in terms of risk, the less the impact on the main contractor’s risk profile. Hence with widespread adoption of SLALOM, the main contractor’s election of subcontractors becomes more concerned with the technical capability than the associated liability.

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