Analyzing Europe’s Big Data future at Synthesis Workshop in Barcelona

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Barcelona was the setting for the RETHINK big Synthesis Workshop on 9-10 December, following September’s Working Group Meeting in Madrid. Hosted by project coordinator Barcelona Supercomputing Center, the workshop sought to synthesize findings so far and analyze the hardware and networking situation for Big Data in Europe, contributing to the evidence-based strategic overview that is informing the RETHINK big roadmap.

The success of the RETHINK big is dependent on its expert partners and external collaborators, around 30 of whom attended the workshop from seven European countries. A broad spectrum of expertise and interests was represented, from scientists investigating the future of Big-Data computing infrastructure, to manufacturers producing cutting-edge technology; from researchers needing to accommodate and process unprecedented amounts of data, to businesses keen to exploit data to remain competitive in the 21st century.

Marcus Leich presenting part of the SWOT analysis Christos Kotselidis presenting technology advances

Following a summary of technology advances by Marcus Leich (Technische Univerität Berlin) and Christos Kotselidis (University of Manchester), the group undertook a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis of hardware and networking for Big Data in Europe. One of their conclusions was that, while Europe may not be as competitive as other regions in software and hardware-software co-design, it holds a leading position in hardware areas such as embedded systems and device design, as well as software areas such as algorithms and data analytics. Another strength is Europe’s domain-specific expertise in areas such as life and earth sciences. Europe also benefits from strong political leadership in this area and the funding to facilitate scaling, although securing cooperation between its many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will be a challenge.

Stefan Manegold presenting part of the SWOT analysis Board covered in post-it notes from the SWOT analysis session

Participants also identified a number of opportunities, such as making the most of Europe’s inherent culture for distributed computing, leveraging datasets and exploiting the content’s strengths in real-time analytics. To make this a reality, it will be necessary to work within (or streamline) complex bureaucracy and legal frameworks, while countries outside the European Union may be able to move faster.

Group photo of attendees at RETHINK big Synthesis Workshop at UPC's Campus Nord

Over the next few months, we’ll be using these findings to inform the RETHINK big roadmap –watch this space for further information. If you’re working in a related area and would like to get involved in shaping it, we’d love to hear from you: contact rethinkbig-coordinator@bsc.es.