The sky is not the limit! There is a gold mine of space data in the OVH Public Cloud

OVH is reaching for the stars. OVH’s Public Cloud solution, adopted by the European Space Agency via its partner SERCO, is set to host the data from the Copernicus Project in order to promote uses involving satellite imaging. There are dozens of petabytes of new data at stake for developers to analyse!

The Copernicus Project is the most ambitious Earth observation programme to date. This initiative was launched in 2001 by the European Commission and the European Space Agency (ESA), and was formerly named Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES). Its strategic objective is to give Europe an independent ability to observe and monitor the Earth, in order to promote the development of operational services for accessing space data. Seven of the planned total of thirty “Sentinel” satellites have already been assembled and launched into orbit, to meet the programme’s operational requirements.

New data for a wide range of uses

As an example, the data gathered will make it possible to follow trends in land occupation, define the bio-geophysical variables in land surfaces, forecast the condition of the oceans, provide assistance with crisis management in areas affected by natural or industrial disasters, monitor the chemical composition and quality of the air, reanalyse essential climate variables, and develop tools for the implementation of climate services.

In terms of security issues, Copernicus will contribute to ensuring that international treaties are observed, support peacekeeping operations, and can even help with the policing of Europe’s borders.

All of the data collected under this project represents an extensive library of new uses. This data from space also represents a host of new development opportunities for European companies, and will soon be made available for users and developers via a digital open data platform, developed by our partner SERCO Italy. For Copernicus, the entire Data and Information Access Services project (DIAS) is specifically dedicated to this. An ecosystem is being developed and will eventually be released, bringing startups and software publishers together to promote these images.

With an average annual growth rate of 15%, according to PWC, the Earth observation service sector is a very promising market. Several major industrial sectors are potential customers: transport, agriculture, energy, urban planning, etc.

10 Pb of data per year hosted by OVH

OVH and its partners SERCO, GAEL System and Synergise are among the four industrial consortia selected by ESA to make this data available via a public cloud. OVH will be responsible for the cloud infrastructure aspect, and SERCO, acting through its specialised Italian service provider SERCO Italia S.p.A., will provide top-level experts and engineers who possess a wide range of skillsets.

From a technical perspective, the project’s main challenge is to provide an infrastructure capable of handling and processing an immense volume of data, and making that data available to all users free of charge, as the scale of Copernicus is vast. Over 10 Pb of unstructured data will be generated every year: geographical and thermal images, and a wide range of different files.

In addition to the challenges associated with the sheer volume of data that needs to be stored, other criteria such as scalability have proven decisive, with the arrival of new, more high-performance satellites and the incorporation of third-party data only increasing the amount of data. Data confidentiality (the data is hosted outside of regions subject to the Patriot Act/Freedom Act) and the desire to use a non-proprietary solution were also determining factors in the decision to go with OVH.

In the words of Yoann Lamoureux, the Solution Architect in charge of the project at OVH, “The  OpenStack framework, on which the Public Cloud is based, has become a benchmark for the development of very large-scale projects. OVH, which opted for OpenStack as early as 2012 to develop its solutions, has since acquired considerable experience on the subject. This solution also has no size limit, and because the data is triple-replicated, it ensures that that data will survive over time. Finally, for customers using the service, the standard nature of the solution means that they are not confined to one technology: they can manage their deployments via APIs, which developers love.” Guido Vingione, director of the Copernicus Services project at SERCO, explained that: “We are very proud to be working with OVH on this revolutionary initiative. The Earth observation data gathered by the Copernicus programme is incredibly rich, and the range of potential uses is enormous. Facilitating free access to data is a fascinating project, and we are very keen to see what kinds of innovative products and services will be developed.”

Making space data accessible to the general public is a new step for the Copernicus Project. The developer community is not resting on its laurels, though, as there will be new territories to explore by the end of June.