The outbreak of an unprecedented modern day pandemic posed extraordinary challenges to all industry segments, especially the higher education and academic research sector. Educators needed to rapidly adapt to remote teaching and learning environments while researchers were urged to develop new vaccine candidates with the help of public cloud services.
2020 was also the year when the OCRE (Open Clouds for Research Environments) project consortium launched a European-level public procurement tender for a cloud services framework – funded by the European Commission. This framework will ease access to commercial cloud services for universities and public research institutions – about 10,000 entities in 40 countries across Europe. Oracle responded to the tender via its extensive network and on January 20, 2021 OCRE announced the availability of the frameworks in all participating countries.
We could not expect a better start to the new year for our higher education and research customers!
Oracle – along with other major cloud providers – will be listed in the OCRE Cloud Catalogue including Oracle's entire technology cloud portfolio i.e., all IaaS/PaaS services that can be purchased for Universal Cloud Credits in OCI (Oracle Cloud Infrastructure). Selected partners will deliver these services to the market in each and every county by adding consultation, implementation, training and other added-value services. Public sector customers don’t need to run their own time-consuming and costly public procurements. In the next 4 years, they can just refer to the framework and simply call-off contracts with the partners for the selected cloud providers and their services.
How can public higher education and research institutions benefit from the OCRE framework in Europe?
1. The European-level public procurement tender process provides the legal basis for all participating institutions as it is fully compliant with the national public procurement laws and regulations. Purchasing entities don’t need to run their own public procurements that typically last 60 working days and cost about 30,000 EUR on average per institution. We expect a significant reduction of expenses for institutions to buy cloud services.
2. National associations of university networks (aka. NRENs) can act on-behalf-of their institutions, aggregate demand at the national level, and bulk-purchase cloud credits to be distributed to end-users. Similarly, project consortia of universities and research labs can jointly purchase cloud services and share use of them among the participating entities. This allows further cost reductions through potential volume discounts for customers.
3. Technical and legal compliances are all guaranteed in the provided terms and conditions. Oracle offers direct public IP peering as well as private FastConnect network connectivity to the GÉANT academic backbone network. We also fully comply with the Single-Sign-On (SSO) national access federations, data privacy, GDPR and other legal requirements that are essential for building the trust. These technical and legal elements also have lower TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) implications for the institutions.
Fig. 1. Benefits of the European public procurement framework
Beyond these expected benefits, the broader industry engagement also facilitated by the framework will allow Oracle to further explore and expand the potential outcomes as a result of a longer term industry partnership between Oracle, GÉANT, NRENs, partners and institutions.
For more industry insight, visit the higher education and research page of Oracle.