Funding for the development of cloud services and open research infrastructures from the Academy of Finland

In the FIRI 2016 funding call, the Academy of Finland granted the ELIXIR Finland node (CSC) a total of EUR 1.1 million to upgrade the secure ePouta cloud service during 2017 and 2018. Other projects and infrastructures in which CSC is involved were also successful in FIRI 2016 call: the Open Geospatial Information Infrastructure for Research (oGIIR), the European Infrastructure of Open Screening Platforms for Chemical Biology (EU-OPENSCREEN), the Finnish Grid and Cloud Infrastructure (FGCI2) and the Integrated Atmospheric and Earth System Science Research Infrastructure (INAR RI Ecosystems).

Cloud resources to meet the growing needs of sensitive data analysis

CSC hosts ELIXIR Finland node which is part of ELIXIR, the European Life Science Infrastructure for Biological Information. The most important service provided by ELIXIR Finland is ePouta, a secure cloud computing environment for the analysis of sensitive data. The node also offers tools for processing big data sets, managing data user rights and access to international bioinformatics data warehouses such as the European Genome-phenome Archive (EGA).

"Finland has been successful in biomedicine, and especially in applying genome data and modern imaging techniques to study diseases such as cancer. The Academy of Finland's funding decision ensures access to sufficient national computing resources suitable for the analysis of sensitive data to meet growing research needs in the future as well. It also makes it possible to participate extensively in international cooperation projects," says Ilkka Lappalainen, Biomedical Service Development Manager of ELIXIR Finland and CSC.

According to Lappalainen, upgrade supports the national genome and healthcare strategy. This is vital for meeting the computing needs of biomedical research in an environment that enables the large-scale analysis of human genomes, cancer samples and biobank data. It is cost-effective to implement a national cloud resource suitable for the processing of sensitive data as a centralised service through CSC, enabling the entire research community to benefit from it.

Improving the easiness of use of geospatial information in research

Open Geospatial Information Infrastructure for Research (oGIIR) supports the entire national research community with geospatial information and analysis services and facilitates their use in research in all fields of science. The infrastructure is being implemented by means of cooperation between CSC and seven universities and research institutes. It serves geospatial research cooperation and information exchange between universities and research institutes.

"Thanks to FIRI 2016 funding, state research institutes participating in the project now have the opportunity to use CSC's computing environment free of charge for the computationally intensive services of the Open Geospatial Infrastructure for Research," says Pekka Lehtovuori, Director, Services for Research at CSC. "CSC's services are already largely free of charge to higher-education institutions as part of the service packages bought by the Ministry of Education and Culture. "

The objective of oGIIR is to create a national geospatial information portal through which all Finnish geospatial data that is important in research and education can be found from a single location. The service is intended to respond to the needs of existing geospatial data providers and to merge new data to the service. It extends CSC's current PaITuli spatial data service to meet the needs of all geospatial data actors.

Decentralised computing capacity to serve big data needs

The Finnish Grid and Cloud Infrastructure (FCGI) is a uniquely extensive cooperation consortium that includes almost all Finnish research universities. The infrastructure built by the consortium combines local, cloud and decentralised grid computing capacity that is open to all Finnish researchers.

"With the phase two funding we've now received, we'll expand the infrastructure and step up its capacity so that it meets the needs of big data in particular even better. To process large amounts of data, we'll use high-memory computing servers and faster, more extensive storage capacity solutions," says Jura Tarus, Development Manager at CSC.

Open chemical biology infrastructure supports research in bioscience and medicine

The European Infrastructure of Open Screening Platforms for Chemical Biology (EU-OPENSCREEN) is included in the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) roadmap. EU-OPENSCREEN aims to provide a state-of-the-art open infrastructures and technologies to develop new bioactive small molecules. This supports for example drug research and also promotes basic research widely in the biosciences.

"CSC supports the Finnish EU-OPENSCREEN infrastructure with services for processing of research data and also promotes the utilisation of major European e-infrastructure capacities," says Antti Pursula, Project Director at CSC.

Support for data processing and interoperability in environmental research

Funding was also granted to Integrated Atmospheric and Earth System Science Research Infrastructure (INAR RI Ecosystems). CSC has participated in INAR RI by developing and producing compute and data processing platforms, especially for atmospheric science. During the new funding period, CSC's role is to develop services for management and interoperability of research data in the infrastructure, with special focus in ecosystems and biodiversity research.

Additional information:

Academy of Finland Press release (10.2.2017): Academy of Finland awards €27m in funding for research infrastructure

Websites of the projects that received funding: