Transforming Scientific Research with OpenStack

Maxwell Cooter | Diginomica | November 17, 2016

The Naturalis Biodiversity Center is digitising its organisation using open source technologies, supporting the needs of researchers.

A cloud-based approach is often heralded as the natural way forward when it comes to improving agility. And whilst many traditional enterprises have turned to the technology, other types of organizations are seeing the benefits too. The Naturalis Biodiversity Center, based in Leiden, Netherlands, is one of the largest centres in the world for the study of biological and geographical diversity.

The organization, in common with many institutions, had a problem. Over the years, it had amassed a collection of some 42 million objects that needed to be catalogued.  Naturalis had already started a process of digitisation, but it was a slow process – its underlying infrastructure buckling under the task. But there was another issue too – another one that is prevalent in other organisations – a clash between different departments with differing needs. The question became how to balance the need to experiment, with the desire for collaboration, and the requirement to stay secure.

Naturalis had a small IT team facilitating the needs of the researchers, but the organization was struggling. David Heijkamp, IT project manager at Naturalis, said: "We tried to serve everyone with Dell desktops and Microsoft Windows. This was a real problem for the researchers who wanted to experiment with advanced techniques for their analysis. They wanted to install R or specific scripts to run their analysis"...