Developers live down a well of components and data. Architects inhabit towers of strategy and glass. Product managers are on the ground trying to build the interface. When they come together, the meetings typically devolve into a discussion about what can be implemented versus what the requirements with the particular bias of the subset.
The European open science cloud stakeholders conference in the SQUARE venue in Brussels is no different to any engineering conference in that sense, except this had an academic engine room of scientists and developer scientists from a variety of domains from biology, high energy physics and even cultural studies. In a sense, there was nothing to agree, there could be no outcome of a story which is just gathering its cards into a deck, ready for the next riffle in the pilot programme.
Lacking a discernible outcome means it can be hard to develop a story, a narrative that adds value cannot exist when the dynamic is not there. Developer speak is fine and interesting, but it’s one dimensional and technical. The high and mighty architects operate on a level that is not accustomed to the grimy world of IT implementation and the project people and programme manager equivalents of academic institutions around Europe don’t hestitate to bring them in through their ground-floor level.
In the end I developed a pitch about a round-up article that touched on some of the main points of the conference. I didn’t touch the ‘controversy’ because it was in no way remarkable, only that it happened in public, it is a normal project phase – the row – PMs baulking at the architectural deficiencies and so on.
The concepts of open science and the cloud needs to be socialised and it is difficult to take a ‘cloud’ concept and make it real. The key insight was that the data will not belong to a big data pot in the middle, it will be retained by the owners of the data and the cloud will provide services such as processing or storage.
The article was published by Horizon magazine under the title: Nine things we now know about the European open science cloud