European Cloud Testing Environment To be Offered Free of Charge During 2014

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Encouraging developers to break into the multi-million euro cloud market.

The former EU-initiative BonFIRE Project is offering its multi-site cloud infrastructure free throughout 2014 for researchers and SMEs to use for testing and experimentation of cloud-based applications and services. Although EU investment finished at the end of 2013, the infrastructure will continue to operate as the BonFIRE Foundation.

The continuation of the service beyond the lifetime of the EU-funded project is a major step forward for European research. Rather than being a centrally funded project, the Foundation will be financed by its core members. Testbed providers, integrators, and partners who agree to provide practical support for the project are full members of the BonFIRE Foundation; other partners will retain their links as associates.

BonFIRE enables developers to research new, faster, cheaper, or more flexible ways of running applications with new business models. SMEs and researchers can test a range of cloud scenarios, such as cloud bursting and hybrid clouds, across BonFIRE’s five European sites.

European Cloud Testing Environment To be Offered Free of Charge During 2014

Demand for BonFIRE’s unique Open Access facility, giving free use of the facilities to selected researchers and developers, has far exceeded the project’s expectations. Vegard Engen of The IT Innovation Centre at the University of Southampton, who led the Open Access initiative, said “The response to Open Access has been brilliant. We’ve received applications from all over the world including companies, research centres and universities wanting to benefit from our offer. The experiments are really diverse, with developers exploiting clouds for applications in health, e-learning, multimedia, smart cities, as well as advancing core cloud/services technologies.”

For example, the facility has proved invaluable for two SMEs who needed to investigate how to deliver a smoother user experience with desktop-as-a-service, using virtual path slices to create a right of way across the internet without interference. Other users have investigated automatic elastic scaling in a large and “bursty” anti-plagiarism application, and the provision of high-reliability home monitoring services using large data flows for video and other real-time data.

“By using BonFIRE we have cut the cost of developing applications and accelerated the launch of sleek, new services,” said Usman Wajid, Future Internet Researcher at the University of Manchester. “Because BonFIRE was built for testing and experimentation, it gave us total control and dedicated access to the specific physical machines where we run our experiments. We have been able to test various scenarios that reflect the real world, with the additional benefit of being able to observe in detail what happens in complex situations that we control. We have been able to adjust and investigate various cloud computing elements including network events, resource contention, elasticity, data storage using a simple web-based portal.”

According to Josep Martrat, of ATOS and BonFIRE project director, “The lack of commercial cloud testing services used to limit the development of competitive applications. With BonFIRE that issue went away. As BonFIRE was designed and built by service providers for service providers, it provides just the environment testers and experimenters need without compromise and without loss of control and accountability.

“With over 30 major experiments to date, the project exceeded its original goals. Our Open Calls were subscribed six times more than we could fund and our Open Access scheme increased our user-base. We then saw people coming back to BonFIRE for more experimentation that they funded themselves,” said Michael Boniface of The IT Innovation Centre at the University of Southampton and BonFIRE sustainability manager.

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