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CERN openlab is a unique public-private partnership between CERN and leading ICT companies. Its mission is to accelerate the development of cutting-edge solutions to be used by the worldwide LHC community.
Within this framework, CERN provides access to its complex IT infrastructure and its engineering experience, in some cases even extended to collaborating institutes worldwide. Testing in CERN’s demanding environment provides the ICT industry partners with valuable feedback on their products while allowing CERN to assess the merits of new technologies in their early stages of development for possible future use. This framework also offers a neutral ground for carrying out advanced R&D with more than one company. The openlab partners commit to a three-year programme of work and provide three kinds of funding: salaries for young researchers, products and services, and engineering capacity. CERN openlab is now in the first year of its fourth phase (2012-2014). This phase will address new topics crucial to the CERN scientific programme, such as cloud computing, business analytics, the next generation of hardware, and security for the myriads of networks devices.
"CERN openlab provides tangible evidence of the virtuous circle linking basic and applied science. Here at CERN, our mission is to push back the frontiers of knowledge. The openlab partners have a very different role. Their job is to provide cutting edge IT products to demanding customers around the world. These may be very different missions, but what makes the partnership work is that CERN is a blue-sky laboratory that uses very real world techniques to unlock the mysteries of nature. And we are perhaps the most demanding customer of them all.The principle is simple, the requirements of particle physics research push IT to its limits, which leads to new products that in turn feed back into particle physics research: a virtuous circle. Thanks to advances in IT, driven partly by the openlab, the LHC experiments are able to digest and analyse the prodigious quantities of data being delivered by the world’s most powerful accelerator. Roughly 25 petabytes of data will be archived and shared every year - the equivalent of 5.3 million DVD movies, which would take a thousand years to watch. Dealing with such huge quantities of data would have been impossible just a few years ago. As a result, the experiments have been turning raw data into published results at a breathtaking pace, thereby adding to the sum of human knowledge. Major breakthroughs cannot be far away, both in terms of blue-sky physics and information technology. I look forward to accompanying the openlab partnership through this exciting phase."Rolf HeuerDirector General of CERNCERN openlab Annual Report May 2010 - May 2011