earth observation data in the cloud

Earth Observation Data & Processing in the Cloud: Earthquake & Volcanic Hazard Analysis by the European Space Agency

Customer Profile

earth observation data in the cloud

ESA RSS (Research and Service Support) is a service provided by the European Space Agency (ESA). ESA is Europe’s gateway to space. Its mission is to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA RSS service provides resources to support Earth Observation data exploitation. They support data access and data processing by bringing user algorithms close to the data. And by providing various platforms and environments. RSS also supports the development of new applications and services to generate value-added information derived from Earth Observation data.

In CloudSigma, ESA RSS found a stable platform that enables them to supply consumers of Earth Observation data with great performance and availability. Additionally, the RSS team has built a strong working relationship with CloudSigma staff who are on hand to assist them immediately. The ESA RSS team continues to grow its services hosted with CloudSigma over time.

“I find the live chat very useful, especially because the responsiveness is very high. We immediately get a response and the feeling for the user is very positive. You feel that there is always someone ready to intervene.”Giovanni Sabatino, Earth Observation Research Support Lead Engineer @ ESA

The Challenge

At an international institution such as ESA, the main purpose of the RSS service is to provide its customers with reliable and performant services. Most of their end-users are researchers from universities and research centers, service providers, public institutions and medium-sized enterprises.

“The main challenge at the beginning was to integrate the service. We needed to have something like a web portal interface with an engine, which is able to communicate with the cloud provider infrastructure via an API. During the proof of concept we defined a test plan, ran several tests and each of these tests had to pass.”

In order to manage the variable workload, and the diversity of processing required they decided to trust CloudSigma to satisfy different user requirements. They were quite happy to have made this decision because it helped them to focus on their main responsibilities. Specifically in terms of development and support and not having to be distracted by basic operational requirements.

“According to me, one of the main benefits is the fact that we get rid of the system administrator part. And can focus on the application, on the algorithm development, and on the user support.”

The Solution

Currently, RSS is using computing power at CloudSigma and satellite data stored on the clustered storage system. The purpose of this is to provide virtual environments where Earth Observation users can develop their algorithms or processes. By so doing the aim is to help researchers and service providers to speed-up their research saving time and costs.

“We need large amounts of high performance storage, because our data archive is very large and growing. By having our choice of good performance, cost-effective storage or high-performance SSD storage, all of which is elastic and on-demand, we’re able to quickly and cost-effectively deploy our platform, whose goal is to use earth observation data to protect both life and property from an earthquake and volcanic hazards.”Giovanni Sabatino, Earth Observation Research Support Lead Engineer @ ESA

The scale-out magnetic storage provides ESA’s RSS team flexible and cost-effective storage with the necessary performance and scalability to run its analyses and store the satellite data and computational results.

More specifically the RSS Team hosts the Cloud Toolbox service that provides users with tailored machines hosted on CloudSigma for development, analysis and processing activities. The Cloud Toolbox virtual machine comes with pre-installed software and users can install additional based on their requests.


“The main advantage for the users is flexibility because the RAM, CPU cores and disk size can be tuned to users’ needs. Another advantage is, of course, the fact that due to the cloud nature of the service, the Cloud Toolbox is available and accessible from everywhere in the world.”

Before choosing CloudSigma ESA RSS Team evaluated a number of cloud providers. They performed tests for application compatibility, performance, customer service, API functionality and management tools. CloudSigma resulted to be one of the most reliable and flexible cloud providers.

“I would say that the web interface, the possibility to create templates and deploy many similar machines plus the responsiveness of the support were the main strengths observed when we evaluated the service.”

The Impact

Once the ESA RSS Team started using CloudSigma they could improve the quality of the offered services. Together with CloudSigma the RSS team are growing and steadily increasing their cloud deployment. The RSS Team don’t hesitate to recommend CloudSigma to people who are looking for a reliable cloud partner.

“With CloudSigma I have the impression that the VM I am working on is installed on my PC. For us CloudSigma is a success story.”Giovanni Sabatino, Earth Observation Research Support Lead Engineer @ ESA

“We would recommend CloudSigma as one of the best options. Because of the infrastructure usability, good user support and of course high availability of their VMs.”

Judging by the overall experience that the ESA Team has with CloudSigma, they are very satisfied with the services. And they consider CloudSigma one of the best cloud providers on the market and a perfect match for their requirements.


About Vanya Nikova

Vanya is leading the Global Customer Development Team at CloudSigma. Beside that, she is responsible for a number of big data and big science partners and projects at CloudSigma. She has a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Mannheim, Germany with 10 years of work experience in sales and consulting services.