SRCE and the Croatian e-Infrastructure status and plans

Ivan Marić tells us what’s in store for the Croatian e-infra

Dear EGI Newsletter readers, this text arises in a globally specific and challenging period marked by the coronavirus pandemic. The fact that our organizations and our services function successfully under these conditions, and in particular the fact that the academic and research community, as the primary user community, successfully switched to work online, are important indicators that the long-term performance of our organizations is related to building a modern e-infrastructure and supporting services.

Just to mention the successful operation of the advanced computing and data services we offered to researchers in fight against coronavirus pandemic but also, in case of SRCE, a national authentication and authorization infrastructure we operate as a basic precondition for functioning and working in the virtual world, or support we provide through our e-Learning Centre operating LMS and videoconferencing service, or, providing support for students, professors and faculty administration operating a national information system of higher education, etc.

The uninterrupted work and services available in extraordinary circumstances are the result of many years of continuous reflection and work by the employees of our organizations. One of such organizations is SRCE, the University Computing Centre based in Zagreb, Croatia and part of the EGI network of e-infras.

About SRCE

The University Computing Centre (SRCE) has a long tradition in the area of information and communication technologies. SRCE is an e-infrastructure organization, building and providing services for the Croatian science and higher education system. Furthermore, SRCE is the competence center for information and communication technologies as well as the center for education and support in the area of ICT application.

Over the last few decades, SRCE has built a number of components that led to the development of a national e-infrastructure. Just to mention a few:

– In 2002 SRCE built the computer cluster Isabella with the objective to provide all Croatian researchers access to advanced computational resources for data processing for their research projects.

– In 2003 to 2005 SRCE as a part of multi-institutional project CRO-GRID built a national grid infrastructure whose goals were introduction of grid and cluster technologies to science and industry and development of distributed computing environment. CRO-GRID led to establishment of the Croatian National Grid Infrastructure, CRO NGI as a common resource of the scientific and academic community. CRO NGI is connected to the European grid infrastructure (EGI) and through SRCE a full member in the EGI Council. 

– In 2019 SRCE made the transformation of the CRO NGI into the new HTC Cloud platform for advanced computing and complex data analysis. In 2012 SRCE established the private cloud with two new IaaS cloud services Virtual Private Servers (VPS) and Virtual Computing Lab (VCL). In 2006 the authentication and authorization infrastructure of science and high education in the Republic of Croatia, AAI@EduHr was established by SRCE.

Present and future plans (HR-ZOO, CroRIS & DABAR)

Current focus of SRCE continues to be the systems and services that are necessary and important for modern and open education and science. In the area of computing and data processing, through the project Croatian Scientific and Educational Cloud (HR-ZOO) a core component of the national e-infrastructure will be built. The further development of the Digital Academic Archives and Repositories (DABAR) system by enabling permanent and reliable storage of new types of digital objects, PUH ˗ new service for storing and managing data during research projects or for educational process purposes , – are just some examples of the SRCE’s activities in the data services layer.

Through the project of Ministry of Science, called Scientific and Technological Forecasting, SRCE is building Croatian Research Information System (CroRIS), a national system for all relevant information on Croatian Science and Research Activities.

SRCE and pan-European initiatives

Another important role of SRCE is in assuring connection of Croatian e-Infrastructure and services with European ones. We should especially emphasize the great engagement of SRCE in European projects and initiatives such as the EOSC-Hub, NI4OS-Europe, RDA project EUROCC.

SRCE and the research community – a key element of success

SRCE participates in the advanced application of information and communication technologies in the Republic of Croatia. SRCE accomplishes this through daily direct contact with end users, but also through the establishment of modern management and organizational structures of the basic components of e-infrastructure that enable the active involvement of all stakeholders in the planning and policy of using the services.

And last words…

At the beginning I mentioned the challenges with coronavirus so I decide not to reflect, in the text, on usual challenges we are facing in achieving all of our goals, and there are so many of them, ranging from ‘how to compete commercial IT market salaries in attracting new talents and keeping existing one’, “how to make successful and engaged community collaboration” to ‘how to convince research funding body structures to invest in e-commons, again’.

Next year SRCE will celebrate its 50 anniversary. As long as it will continue activities on building Croatian e-commons, successfully promoting the culture of sharing of resources and open access to data and resources that are publicly funded, constantly listening and serving research and higher education community but also helping a society in general, the future of e-infrastructure organizations like SRCE, is assured.

Ivan Marić is the Deputy Director, CTO and EGI Council representative of SRCE Foundation.