EU refuses to say whether it will save free cloud testing environment

Cloud SaaS

by Joe Curtis| 14 February 2014

Eight companies keen to keep Bonfire Foundation alive ‘have not approached Commission for funding’.

The EU has not confirmed whether it would offer further funding to a free cloud testing environment to keep it alive beyond 2014.

Project Bonfire was an €8.5m European Commission project funded for three-and-a-half years to provide SMBs and researchers with a free cloud environment in which to test and develop products and services.

Widely considered a success, a core group of eight companies including SAP and Atos have provided €400,000 to keep the newly-renamed Bonfire Foundation running for a further year after funding ran out last December.

But Atos exec and Bonfire director Josep Martrat told CBR last week that the scheme's future was uncertain beyond 2014, unless the EU stepped in to cover "basic operations".

While Martrat confirmed the group is "continually working" on securing an agreement, the EU told CBR yesterday that it has not yet been approached for cash.

Ryan Heath, spokesman for Neelie Kroes, the VP of the European Commission, said: "We consider Bonfire has been a very successful project due to the results achieved during the FP7 project's life, and excellent independent reviews.

"[But] there is no deal or other agreement currently with the European Commission. They have not asked for money."

However, CBR understands the companies behind Bonfire may compete for a grant under Horizon 2020, an EU Research and Innovation programme with €80bn available for projects for the next six years.

The cloud platform has proved popular as a cheap and fast method of developing and testing products, and benefited from Commission cash as an FP7 project, the seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development.

The programme ran its course at the end of 2013.

More than 30 major projects were completed before December 2013 over the course of its existence, while Martrat said he had received a further 13 expressions of interest for future projects.

He had hoped that if the EU could cover running costs, the firms involved could free up extra money for expanding Bonfire's functionalities.

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