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Smooth transition to a new organisation for large-scale computation and storage resources

The need for large-scale computation and data management is becoming ever greater within an ever larger number of research fields. In order to fulfil the needs of researchers at Swedish higher education institutions, a new organisation will take over the responsibility for national computation resources from SNIC. The Swedish Research Council has now appointed a work team that, together with SNIC, will make the transition as smooth as possible.

Currently, it is the Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing (SNIC) that provides researchers with resources for carrying out large-scale computation and for storing and managing data. In 2020, an evaluation by an international expert panel showed that, for organisational reasons, SNIC was unable to meet the growing demand that exists for these services. The funding model used for SNIC has also proved to be insufficient for handling the increased investments that are required.

Decision on the new organisation in end of June.

In June 2021, the Swedish Research Council therefore decided to stop funding SNIC as from 2023. A call for funding of a new organisation that can fulfil the needs of Swedish research for computation and storage resources opened on 17 December 2021 and will close on 31 March 2022. A decision on the new organisation will be made no later than end of June.

Lisbeth Olsson, Secretary General of the Swedish Research Council’s Council for Research Infrastructures (RFI) underlines the importance of the transition from the current SNIC to the new organisation being as smooth as possible.

“We have started a dialogue with SNIC about this. The transition will be done in a way that does not put at risk the research community’s access to computation resources. At RFI, we have appointed a work team that will help to prepare for the transition, so that it can be done in a secure and organised way,” says Lisbeth Olsson.

The competence and resources shall be utilised

The organisation taking over is expected to start its operation on 1 January 2023, but as soon as it has been appointed it will also be involved in these talks. An important starting point is that the competence and resources that exist within SNIC and related networks shall be utilised in the new organisation, Lisbeth Olsson emphasises:

“This is one of the requirements set in the call issued by the Swedish Research Council.”

The transition needs to take place before or in conjunction with a new organisation taking over the responsibility for national large-scale computation and storage resources. Exactly how the new organisation will be implemented is nothing that either Lisbeth Olsson or Ingela Nyström, Chair of the Board of SNIC, can say at this point in time.

“SNIC will of course support the Swedish Research Council and the new organisation in drawing up an implementation plan,” says Ingela Nyström.

SNIC is a complex operation. There are many different parts that need to be managed during the transition.

“In addition to continued operation of existing computation and storage resources, we also need to work on allocation, as well as national and international commitments and agreements. But the most important thing of all is to utilise the competence that exists within SNIC,” says Ingela Nyström.

Lisbeth Olsson agrees.

“The competence that exists within SNIC is incredibly valuable and in many ways crucial also for the new organisation. The need for such competence is just growing and growing. The full focus will therefore be on retaining it.

Facts about SNIC

The Swedish Research Council’s Council for Research Infrastructures (RFI) initiates, coordinates and funds a number of advanced research infrastructures – facilities, equipment and databases of high quality within all scientific fields. Some of these are international, others are national. The Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing (SNIC) belongs to the latter category.

SNIC offers researchers in all scientific fields infrastructure and support in relation to large-scale computation, storage services and user support.

SNIC was formed in 2003, and has since 2018 been a consortium consisting of ten universities, hosted since 2012 by Uppsala University. Most of the personnel at SNIC are employed at one of the ten universities that are part of the SNIC consortium.

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