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CIRCA is dead - Long live CIRCABC!

Released on 2007-02-17

After 12 years, CIRCA, the widely used group collaboration software developed under the European Commission's Interchange of Data between Administrations (IDA) programme became a victim of its own success. Performance, security availability and archiving are no longer as effective as they used to be. Furthermore, the evolving needs of public administrations, in particular their wish to use true open source software (OSS), make a complete re-design of old CIRCA necessary. The new CIRCABC application will be used by public administrations and businesses according to their own needs, thus ensuring the sustainability of the service.

Here some relevant quotes from the interim evaluation of the IDABC programme (Final report, July 2006).

The CIRCA project idea dates back to 1995. A tool was needed by the European statistical office (EUROSTAT) to deal with Member States information. CIRCA has been developed by the European Commission under the IDA programme. CIRCA(BC) is one of the important measures of IDA(BC) and the second measure in terms of overall funding (after TESTA). From its inception, CIRCA has been one of the most widely horizontal measure used, which is in line with the general policy of technology re-use.
CIRCA is now a well-established collaborative tool within the European Commission. The rate of use has increased substantially between 2004-2005 (+31%). 38 DGs or EU Commission services use CIRCA as well as 15 other institutions or decentralised bodies (European Environment Agency for instance). More than 60 administrations have received a free licence to exploit CIRCA for their own needs.
CIRCA infrastructure has proved to be very effective since it is now victim of its success: it has reached overcapacity. For that reason, performance, security availability and archiving are no longer as effective as they used to be. CIRCABC (i.e. the continuation of CIRCA developed under IDA) will therefore aim to overcome these difficulties. The CIRCABC installation should be set up step by step with an expected core version (1.0) comprising notably the library service, directory newsgroup ready by the end of 2006. An extended version is planned to be implemented end 2007.
Some meta information concerning new CIRCABC:
  • IDABC programme, action type: Horizontal measure, Basic infrastructure
  • Duration: Q4/2005 – Q4/2009
  • Cost: € 3,3 M for the overall CIRCABC, €1,8 M for CIRCABC developments
  • Link to presentations and other material from the CIRCABC and IPM Development Conference, Brussels, 7th December 2006
  • CIRCABC architecture is based upon Alfresco, a true Open Source Enterprise Content Management system

Migration tools from CIRCA version 3.x to CIRCABC will be made available by the European Commission's Directorate-General for Informatics (DIGIT). The Commission's CIRCABC road map foresees a migration of the Commission's own Forum CIRCA server from mid-2007 onwards. During the first half of 2008, a gradual phase out of Forum CIRCA is planned. Other CIRCA installations (e.g. at EEA and in Eionet) will be able to continue running in their current state, but no more patches with bug fixes and enhancements will be released.

Feedback, requirements and wishes from Eionet NFPs and NRCs concerning a "New CIRCA" application are more than welcome. Please add your comments to the CountryWishlist page under the NewCIRCA Wiki.

In case of further questions around CIRCA and CIRCABC, please contact the EIONET NMC Helpdesk.

Hermann Peifer, EEA, 19 February 2007