EU's free cloud testing future ‘uncertain’ beyond 2014

Cloud SaaS

by Joe Curtis| 07 February 2014

The Bonfire Foundation initiative has been saved this year, but backer admits its future is not guaranteed.

The future of a free cloud testing environment is uncertain, admits one of the firms that saved it this year after EU funding expired.

Project Bonfire, a European Commission cloud platform that enables researchers and SMBs to develop products and services for free, was relaunched as Bonfire Foundation this year by eight companies that stepped in following the end of its €8.5m European Commission backing.

IT services business Atos was one of the firms to contribute to the €400,000 necessary to keep Bonfire going, but the money will only cover staff, hardware and software updates and maintenance until December.

Josep Martrat, director of the Foundation and head of Telecoms,. Media and IT Research at Atos, told CBR the eight companies must convince the EU to provide for basic operations if the cloud testing environment is to continue past 2014.

The eight companies would then be free to fund the service beyond what it currently offers, he added.

"We are continually working on beyond 2014," he said. "There's not a commitment [from the EU] at the moment. We can't anticipate what's going to happen.

"The idea is to go for a hybrid [financing] model. If the Commission could cover basic operational aspects we're happy to continue exploring new functionalities."

The cloud platform has proved popular with researchers and SMBs as a cheap and quick way to develop and test services and products, with more than 30 major projects completed before December 2013 in its three-and-a-half-year lifespan.

And Martrat told CBR the Foundation has had a further 13 expressions of interest for future projects.

"There's good demand for this type of service," he said.

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