A Word from the Director-General

CERN openlab is now embarking upon a new three-year phase. Together with its collaborators from research and industry, CERN openlab is working to accelerate the development of the innovative systems needed to meet the unprecedented ICT challenges posed by CERN’s current and future scientific programme.

Since its foundation in 2001, CERN openlab has run in successive three-year phases. This model offers the possibility for both CERN and the collaboration members to take stock at regular intervals, and helps to ensure that the most pertinent challenges faced by the worldwide high-energy physics community are being addressed. The fact that several leading ICT companies have signed up as CERN openlab members for multiple successive phases is testament to the value this unique public-private partnership offers.

CERN openlab’s fifth phase came to a close at the end of 2017. This three-year period marked a significant time of growth for CERN openlab, with the number of industry collaborators roughly doubling. Also, for the first time, the CERN openlab family included other research institutes. By working together with laboratories and universities facing similar ICT challenges to those encountered by the LHC community, CERN openlab has been able to further increase its impact and ensure maximum relevancy of its work.

During its fifth phase, CERN openlab ran 20 R&D projects, related to ICT topics such as data acquisition, networking, storage, cloud computing, code modernisation, and data analytics. The insights gained through these investigations are already helping to inform the development work of teams across the laboratory as they prepare for the ICT challenges posed by future planned upgrades to both the LHC and the experiments.

Throughout 2017, much of CERN openlab’s work was dedicated to preparations for its sixth phase, which runs from the start of 2018 to the end of 2020. A series of workshops and other meetings was held in the first half of the year to discuss the ICT challenges faced by the LHC research community — and other ‘big science’ projects — over the coming years. The white paper CERN openlab published in September (http://openlab.cern/whitepaper) is the culmination of these investigations, and sets out specific challenges that are ripe for tackling through collaborative R&D projects with leading ICT companies.

With the publication of this white paper, CERN openlab has laid the groundwork for another highly successful three-year phase. In the coming years, I expect CERN openlab to capitalise on the potential areas for joint R&D that have been identified and to build on its collaborations with research communities beyond high-energy physics.

Read the full text in our 2017 annual report.