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Azerbaijan e-infrastructure is developing fast thanks to project partnership with European Community

During the e-IRG Open Workshop, held in November 2015 in Belval/Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg, we had the opportunity to talk with Rasim Alguliyev, Ramiz Aliguliyev, and Vugar Musayev from the Institute of Information Technology, which is part of the National Academy of Sciences (ANAS) in Azerbaijan. The Institute of Information Technology was founded in 1971. Azerbaijan is building a national scientific and educational network community, called AzScienceNet. AzScienceNet harvests research institutions and is working on the training and popularization of ICT knowledge in Azerbaijan. Another goal is to apply all the innovation, knowledge and experience to practice and cooperate with state authorities and business structures. The Institute of Information Technology is the main institution in Azerbaijan that is responsible for developing ICT technology in Azerbaijan. It has 500 employees.

Ramiz Alguliyev's area of interest is Cloud computing, data mining and Big Data analytics, and social networking analysis. He was particularly interested in the UK presentation at the e-IRG Workshop in Belval. In this area, Alguliyev's department is working with colleagues in Switzerland, the UK, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Australia, and Malaysia.

Azerbaijan has a population of about 10 million people. It became an independent country in 1991 and is trying to be part of the European Community. The country has a need for high quality knowledge in human resources in order to stay competitive with other countries. Azerbaijan is transforming to a society of knowledge association. In terms of ICT technology, the country is growing very rapidly. All electronic services are based on the online environment. In 2013, Azerbaijan's first satellite was launched into space and now it is on the verge of launching the third one. In this region Azerbaijan is the first country to have this satellite technology.

Azerbaijan is building a huge base of high technology. All this is based on scientific cooperation. Azerbaijan has a good relationship with the European Community. Azerbaijan also participates in the GEANT Association. It is participating in multiple projects that are benefiting Azerbaijan's society.

The Institute of Information Technology in 1991 was the first to connect to the Internet in the country. The first national infrastructure was created in the academic domain by specialists of the Institute of Information Technology. The Institute is responsible for transferring innovative technology to all other institutions in Azerbaijan. In these academic institutions more than 10.000 people are active. In this regard, AzScienceNet delivers important services to these institutions. The Institute of Information Technology has started to create a small supercomputing system. About three years ago, the Institute began to support Cloud services in Azerbaijan. Other institutions which need big computing resources, use the available Cloud services in order to solve their problems.

This technology has been spread all over the country. It is an excellent platform for the European Community because it will be connected to a pan-European platform. Azerbaijan is taking part in EaPConnect, a European network project for Eastern Partnership countries for a budget of 13,6 million euro. The European Commission's Directorate-General for Neighborhood and Enlargements Negotiations (DG NEAR) is contributing 95% (13 million euro) towards the cost of the EaPConnect project; the remaining 5% will be co-funded by the six beneficiary countries. In this project, the Azerbaijan scientific and educational community will be connected to the highway pan-European network. This will be a good opportunity to accelerate the integration process of the Azerbaijan scientific community into the European scientific community.

Launched in July 2015, the Eastern Partnership Connect (EaPConnect) project aims to:

  • establish and operate a high-capacity broadband internet network for research and education and integrate the national research and education networks (NRENs) in the region into the pan-European GEANT network
  • decrease the digital divide
  • facilitate participation of local scientists, students and academics in global research and education collaborations

By interconnecting the R&E communities across the region and with their European counterparts, EaPConnect will create a gateway for talented individuals in the EaP countries to be truly global players.

EC recognises the importance of e-Infrastructures in bridging the digital divide and bringing its partners closer to the EU.

The project was officially inaugurated at the 1st Eastern Partnership Ministerial Meeting on the Digital Economy and is expected to have a duration of five years.

Ramiz Alguliyev said that his focus of research is on text mining and classification. For the time, text mining methods are developed for English language but they will also be applied to the Azerbaijan language. Of course, for English language there are many databases and tools available. The older generation in Azerbaijan used extensively the Russian language in academic community but young people now are communicating in English. To accelerate the cooperation with European counterparts especially in research and education, a lot of problems have to be solved.

The Institute of Information Technology is in the middle of a scientific community. It has the opportunity to communicate with its users, with Europe, and with other partners in science and education. Therefore, the e-IRG Workshop is very important to know what the European requirements in terms of the e-Infrastructure Commons are for this technology partnership with Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijan partners are very happy to be involved and to contribute.