Sustainability – having the resources and the policy framework to deliver services and support users into the future – is at the heart of EUDAT’s mission of designing, implementing and offering common data services and infrastructure for research.
Future proofing is a key issue for all of Europe’s research infrastructures and e-infrastructures. A plenary session on sustainability at EUDAT’s Third Conference in Amsterdam on 24 – 25 September 2014, brought together experts from across Europe to discuss and debate what sustainability should encompass and how it can be achieved.
The explosion in the data generation capacity of scientific equipment and sensors is creating a new class of researchers who make different demands in terms of their use of computing power and of how and where their data is stored, said Alison Kennedy, Executive director of the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre, who is also a board member of PRACE and EUDAT. “Traditionally users needed us to develop tools to generate data – for modelling and simulations, which had to be kept to compare with other models. Now we have a completely different set of users who want to analyse data generated elsewhere,” Kennedy said. These users tend not to have such a strong background in computing and Kennedy said it is really important to understand their requirements, in particular, how the data will be used, preserved and stored over the longer horizon.
The overall message from the panel was clear: current levels of generation and storage of data is unsustainable. To plot the path to a sustainable future requires a cooperative effort across Europe’s research infrastructures and e-infrastructures. It is critical not to re-invent the wheel – some answers are out there already point the way towards a sustainable future in which researchers are smarter at generating data and more selective in storing it.