In this post, we will tell you about the Barcelona Supercomputing Center – Centro Nacional de Supercomputación and why this research organization decided to deploy ONLYOFFICE Docs in combination with Nextcloud. Keep reading to learn more.
About the Barcelona Supercomputing Center – Centro Nacional de Supercomputación
The Barcelona Supercomputing Center – Centro Nacional de Supercomputación (BSC-CNS) is the national supercomputing facility located in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. The center specializes in high-performance computing (HPC) and manages MareNostrum 4, one of the most powerful supercomputers in Europe with a peak performance of 13.9 petaflops. Since its establishment in 2005, the BSC-CNS has installed four consecutive versions of the supercomputer, and the next version, MareNostrum 5, is under development.
The mission of the BSC-CNS is to research, manage and transfer technology and knowledge in the area of high-performance computing. The center also plays an important role in promoting HPC in Spain and Europe, in close cooperation with other European supercomputing centres.
The BSC-CNS staff consists of more than 760 R&D experts and professionals who work in various scientific fields, including Computer Sciences, Life Sciences, Earth Sciences and Computer Applications in Science and Engineering.
Why ONLYOFFICE Docs?
The BSC-CNS is one of the data service providers of EUDAT, a pan-European network consisting of research organisations, data and computing centers. EUDAT offers a lot of services, including B2DROP, a storage environment for researchers and scientists that allows them to keep their research data always synchronized and up-to-date across various devices.
B2DROP is based on Nextcloud, which provides the possibility to share files located on internal servers. However, file-sharing is not always enough for scientific purposes, so all 57 research groups at the BSC-CNS and the center’s support staff also needed a Nextcloud-compatible tool for real-time co-editing of shared files. With this background, the choice was made in favour of ONLYOFFICE Docs.
The main challenge that ONLYOFFICE Docs was meant to solve was the implementation of a reliable and robust tool that would allow researchers to edit documents online and collaborate with their teams and external collaborators. Ideally, it would be an easy-to-use office suite, similar to other solutions on the market (for example, Google Docs) and powerful enough to enable document collaboration among many users.
Other important factors are the level of security needed by BSC-CNS employees and the confidentiality of the information they manage. This requires them to maintain control over access to their documents, as sharing them using external servers is not an option compatible with the level of security, privacy and confidentiality required in many cases.
Eventually, the BSC-CNS decided to deploy ONLYOFFICE Docs because it fully complies with the criteria and can be integrated with Nextcloud.
Benefits of ONLYOFFICE Docs
At the BSC-CNS, ONLYOFFICE Docs is used in combination with the B2DROP and Nextсloud services that are accessible to hundreds of researchers collaborating on national and international projects. The integrated solution provides multiple options for file sharing and editing among users and user groups with different access privileges.
The most appreciated feature of ONLYOFFICE Docs is its integration with Nextcloud, which allows users to create their own groups and edit documents together with their team.
Another very useful feature is the possibility to edit documents both locally and in the browser.
Finally, it’s real-time co-editing by multiple users, which makes ONLYOFFICE Docs the perfect solution for the needs of the BSC-CNS researchers.
Problems alongside the road to success
Although the ONLYOFFICE Docs and Nextcloud integration seemed to be ideal for the BSC-CNS, the configuration of the service turned out to be more problematic than expected.
At first, some users didn’t have the patience to read the required manuals, so the graphical interface was confusing to them.
Other specific problems that were reported by the BSC-CNS users include:
- Synchronization problems between local clients and the server;
- Loss of changes when the same document is edited by more than one user at a time;
- Latest versions of documents sometimes are not shown;
- Problems with the compatibility of formats and font styles with Microsoft Word;
- Disappearance of files due to the possibility of creating multiple users associated with the same email by group administrators;
- Differences in basic functions, such as “scroll up and down”, in comparison with other similar office suites.
Most of the reported issues were resolved quickly with the help of the ONLYOFFICE technical support, and now ONLYOFFICE Docs continues to earn the trust of the BSC-CNS users.
Blueprint for the future
Despite all the problems that the BSC-CNS staff still faces while adopting ONLYOFFICE Docs, they are quite optimistic about the future. Dr. Nadia Tonello, Head of Data Management at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center – Centro Nacional de Supercomputación, says:
Nevertheless, we will continue to promote the adoption of ONLYOFFICE for collaborative editing of documents, because of the great potential that we have been able to see so far. Our expectations are to consolidate this platform within our organization and keep the number of incidents reported by our users as low as possible.