The enhanced IT cloud system of the Eötvös Loránd Research Network (ELKH), the ELKH Cloud, has been officially commissioned and is now available to users as one of the largest general-purpose research infrastructures in Hungary. For the operation of the ELKH Cloud, the ELKH Institute for Computer Science and Control (SZTAKI) and the Data Center of the ELKH Wigner Research Centre for Physics (Wigner FK) provide computing and data services to more than 150 research projects, supported by the ELKH Secretariat. The aim of the infrastructure development is to provide Hungarian researchers with increased cloud computing and data storage capacity, as well as state-of-the-art hardware and cloud software to support their participation in international projects. The development of the cloud system was initiated by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA) in 2016. The ceremonial inauguration of the ELKH Cloud, the capacity of which was multiplied with the support of the ELKH Secretariat, took place on February 15, 2022 at an online event hosted by SZTAKI.
The effectiveness of new scientific research increasingly depends on efficient ways to store and process large amounts of data. The ELKH Cloud makes the work of users much easier by providing them with the highly capable hardware infrastructure and specialized software environments they need for data-driven research on a turnkey basis. In addition, staff from SZTAKI and Wigner FK also provide professional support to researchers using the ELKH Cloud for specific requests.
"With the ELKH Cloud, research laboratories that cannot afford to purchase, build and operate their own systems will have access to state-of-the-art IT platforms. Thanks to the cutting-edge technologies used, the ELKH Cloud is able to serve the diverse and ever-changing needs of its users, resulting in significant cost savings. Joint work will also provide Hungarian researchers with a European competitive cloud infrastructure, which can be also joined by projects initiated by universities and national laboratories", József Bokor, Vice President of ELKH noted.
"The aim of this infrastructure development is to enable Hungarian researchers to participate in international projects, thus supporting the internationalization of Hungarian higher education and research communities. Hungarian universities have made significant progress in the world's higher education rankings in recent years, thanks to developments such as these. With a change of model implemented, Hungarian higher education offers a wealth of career opportunities in almost all disciplines. The Hungarian Government is committed to the renewal of higher education and the support of science workshops," said József Bódis, State Secretary for Higher Education, Innovation and Vocational Training at the Ministry for Innovation and Technology.
"In addition to providing access to computational resources, the ELKH Cloud offers researchers a tailored, on-demand professional consulting service. This enables users to deploy the Cloud in the most efficient way, thus increasing cloud utilization and efficiency", emphasized Péter Kacsuk, the technical manager of the ELKH Cloud project.
"These days, it is very important to develop a new idea quickly. In many cases, the only way to provide the computer back-up that is inevitably needed is to have an optimum level of state-of-the-art equipment at our disposal. The development should then be followed by a rapid presentation and exploitation of the results. The Hungarian R&D and innovation sector can thus remain an important player on the international stage. The ELKH Cloud can provide this basic condition", Péter Lévai, Director General of Wigner FK noted.
"The scientific cloud based on open solutions is developed by members of the research community and made available to the rest of the research community. Thus, the ELKH Cloud can make an important contribution to the wider dissemination of Open Science principles in Hungary", added Róbert Lovas, Deputy Director of SZTAKI and ELKH Cloud Project Director.
ELKH aims to make the enhanced ELKH Cloud an integrated part of two major European programs, the European Open Science Cloud and the SLICES international project, which has been awarded funding from the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI). This will allow Hungarian researchers to develop prestigious international collaborations in an even broader field under the Horizon Europe program. The importance of the development is also underscored by the fact that the ELKH Cloud was awarded the title of "TOP50 Excellent Research Infrastructure" in 2021.
About the ELKH Cloud
Research often requires a complex platform based on the coordinated operation of many building blocks, which is why the ELKH Cloud provides users with adjustible, reliable and scalable templates – including methods known as cloud orchestration. Thanks to the open OpenStack-based architecture, in addition to the basic Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) services such as operating systems and the cloud, the system also supports Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) frameworks supporting the most popular artificial intelligence research and data collection procedures.
Based on the positive feedback of recent years and the growing demand for artificial intelligence applications, the ELKH Cloud capacity was significantly expanded in 2021 with the support of the ELKH Secretariat, with 5,900 vCPUs, 68 GPGPU cards, 28 TB of RAM, 338 TB of SSD storage, 1.25 PB of HDD storage and 100 Gbps network capacity now at the disposal of users.