Using public e-Infrastructures for commercial & operational purposes

BlueBRIDGE strongly believes that Small, Medium and Large enterprises can benefit from the data, resources and tools made available by the existing European einfrastructures and leverage them to build new services, or enhance existing ones. As part of its mandate, BlueBRIDGE supports IT companies operating in the aquaculture sector by providing them with data, computational resources, data analytics and expertise. But that is not all. During the project, the BlueBRIDGE consortium realised that not only companies operating in the aquaculture sector could benefit from its offering and therefore launched a Call for SMEs (See http://www.bluebridge-vres.eu/bluebridge-competitive-call-data-management-services-smes) through which 5 SMEs operating in the Blue Growth sector were engaged and started using the BlueBRIDGE services.

The BlueBRIDGE best practice

The collaboration with SMEs raised a couple of criticalities to which BlueBRIDGE had to respond to promptly:

  1. SLA level and orientation of e-infrastructures does not present the terms met by commercial infrastructures and
  2. operational policies of e-infrastructures formally oppose utilization for indirect or direct commercial activities.

To overcome the above issues BlueBRIDGE adopts the practice of including private companies as resource providers in the context of BlueBRIDGE. This allows a mixture of services coming from public and private sector that can cover the aforementioned challenge. As a best practice too, the project suggests that no revenue generating services are executed on einfrastructure resources provided by public bodies. If revenue streams emerge, commercially powered resources may be utilized for hosting the relevant activities. Those can be provided by private companies engaged in the project as infrastructure providers providers. In that case the only resources that will remain provided via the eInfrastructure will be the services that coordinate the resource tracking and monitoring.

 

Another part of the practice is related to the licensing of the software used to power the infrastructure. The fact that the BlueBRIDGE software is provided under EUPL licensing 1.1 that allows commercial partners to replicate the infrastructure outside the e-infrastructure landscape.

 

Additionally, BlueBRIDGE, although it cannot go beyond the typical Research Infrastructures SLAs offered by partners has adopted the practice of thorough monitoring and accounting of infrastructure status and activity, which is an evidence of the quality of the services. Although not an SLA type of commitment, proves that the statistical level of services is of premium quality and adequate for the operations hosted on it.

 

Note: EOSC is expected to deliver more open and concrete policies on e-infrastructure (at least indirect) commercial utilization in the near future, and better address the SLA requirements.

 

The implementation of this practice has allowed private companies to proceed with the integration of their services on the BlueBRIDGE e-infrastructure without spending time and resources in addressing all the legal issues related to the commercialisation of a product via the e-infrastructure.

 

Why this is considered a best practice   

Best Practice Analysis

Validation

The infrastructure SLAs have been analysed by commercial partners (project partners and platform boarding aquafarming SMEs) and, as there are still grey areas related to how e-infrastructures can be utilised to support commercialisation of products/services, the solution described in the best practice is the one that allowed companies to get closer to the e-infrastructure world and to further explore the possibilities offered by this area.

Innovation

Engaged stakeholders managed to obtain and exploit services leveraging on e-infrastructures, respecting the fundamental rules of non-commercial exploitation of the latter.

Success Factors

The practice can be replicated in a flexible service provider environment that can shift the business model to comply with e-infrastructure approaches.

Sustainability

The practice may require commercial resources to be provided, along with the e-infrastructure ones, while it is necessary that this has to be supported or guided by higher (EC) level strategic decisions on e-infrastructure utilization.

Replicability and/or up-scaling

The practice is replicable in all cases where commercial partners offer services on top of e-infrastructures. As such utilization remains limited, and no direct commercial exploitation is assumed although operating in a grey area, this may be acceptable. The same holds for the acceptance of e-infrastructure resource providers’ SLAs. However, this practice is not appropriate for scaling until strategic decisions are taken.

Lessons Learnt

The private sector is highly interested in understanding the benefits of using e-infrastructures. Utilization of e-infrastructures by commercial actors is still a grey area both in the SLA and Terms of Use, even when no direct commercial exploitation of the services is performed. Complementing an e-infrastructure with additional commercial resources, as well as acceptance of lower level SLAs may overcome this issue, however this does not provide a complete solution to the challenge, which needs strategic decisions to be taken in order to be rectified.