eScience Coordination Team
eScience Coordination Team (eSCT) project is part of the SUC P-2 “Scientific information: access, processing and safeguarding” program. The goal of eSCT is to form a national coordination service that provides support for research computing in Switzerland. The aim is to unite and enrich current support expertise for computing in the scientific and research sector, and make this expertise available to a larger community through a sustainable operational model.
The term ‘eScience’ refers to activities in science that are related to the computation and storage, analysis and publication of data or to the simulation of scientific processes. The need to improve the support to eScience is growing and scientists require access to professionally supported information technology (IT) platforms in order to be competitive.
The eSCT coordinates: The Science IT Network of Excellence (SciNeX), The Active Liaison Persons Network, and the SciNeX Local Nodes.
Researchers who previously could concentrate on topic-specific skills now find themselves confronted with complex IT issues outside the scope of their expertise. Even when research is not based on processor calculations, the availability of large datasets and ‘Big Data’ that can be mined for trends is occurring in almost all fields.
Despite excellent work by local IT departments, there is a need for specific support of eScience, and a need to have a more coherent approach across the Swiss research community. To meet these needs, multiple Swiss universities have established scientific IT support units to meet local needs. However, no single support unit can currently cover all types of services to fully meet the eScience needs of all their researchers.
Several research institutions in Switzerland have created dedicated eScience support units to provide expert support and access to competitive infrastructure for eScience research on topics including complex data management and flexible cloud computing resources. However, the support levels and services provided vary from institution to institution and many research institutions have no dedicated eScience support at all. This poses significant challenges on national collaborative research projects where data needs to be shared and exchanged across institutional boundaries.
The eSCT project builds on a number of past and current initiatives that have brought together those supporting research IT and eScience. This include, the Swiss MultiScience Compute Grid, and the subsequent Swiss Academic Compute Cloud project in the AAA/SWITCH program. The HES-SO/GE (LSDS) group participates in the eSCT project as a SciNex Specialist Support Unit.