VRE4EIC Newsletter - November 2017

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Keith Jeffery

Message from the Scientific Coordinator

Welcome to the fourth edition of the VRE4EIC 6-monthly newsletter. The project is now progressing at full speed and on-track to reach its ambitious objectives. A short project description appears below and full details are at www.vre4eic.eu

Brief Description of the project

VRE4EIC (A Europe-wide Interoperable Virtual Research Environment to Empower Multidisciplinary Research Communities and Accelerate Innovation and Collaboration) develops a reference architecture and software prototypes (under the name of e-VRE, for enhanced VRE) to be used for future VREs including building blocks that can be used to improve existing VREs. The project addresses the key data and software challenges in supporting multidisciplinary data driven sciences.

Collaboration with Other Initiatives

VRE4EIC coordinated a week of project meetings at INGV in Rome last month bringing together representatives of the EPOS and ENVRIplus projects implementing interoperable research infrastructures for environmental multidisciplinary data driven sciences.
The event was focused on showcasing and getting user feedback on the project outcome, such as the e-VRE (enhanced Virtual Research Environment) Reference Architecture and the initial component software building blocks of e-VRE.
The meeting included a session devoted to training representatives from EPOS and ENVRIplus in the capabilities of VRE4EIC now and (with mock-ups and discussions) planned. Furthermore, a roadmap was discussed between VRE4EIC and EPOS for setting up the relationship between the EPOS ICS (Integrated Core Services - essentially a system to access assets of the Thematic Core Services and maintained by 10 Europe-wide domain groups such as seismology, volcanology...) and VRE4EIC involving considerations of the user interface and APIs of e-VRE.  The meeting concluded in discussing future implementation plans of ENVRIplus and EPOS, including integration under the aegis of VRE4EIC.
According to Keith Jeffery (ERCIM), Scientific Coordinator of the VRE4EIC project, “The week was a great success with much integration of both existing products and future plans leading towards smooth interoperation of EPOS and ENVRIplus with VRE4EIC”.

Achievements so far

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During its first 18 months of activity, the project collected and analysed a large number of requirements, along with characterizations of existing VREs, coming from a wide community of users engaged with e-science. The results of this analysis have been used to design the eVRE Reference Architecture, offering a set of conceptual components which cooperate to realize the overall functionality of a sophisticated Virtual Research Environment, allowing scientists to discover and access data and services across research infrastructure, taking great care of the involved authorization, authentication, trust, privacy and security issues. The Reference Architecture has been delivered at the end of the first year of the project.
In the subsequent six months, the project has performed a Gap Analysis, aimed at examining existing VREs in order to determine which components of the Reference Architecture must be developed for enhancing the VREs of the EPOS and ENVRIPlus projects, selected to represent existing e-Research Infrastructures. The Gap Analysis has indicated the Metadata Manager and the AAA (authentication, authorization, accounting) Manager. The implementation of these managers, along with the orchestrating Node Manager, has been launched at the beginning of this year, after the technical architecture embedding them has been derived. Such technical architecture is based on micro-services, the most adequate paradigm to the modularity principles adopted by the project.
During the period April – November 2017, the project has achieved several important results, starting with the successful interim review, held in Luxembourg on June 29. The four reviewers, supported by the project Officer, thoroughly reviewed the activity and the deliverables of the first 18 months of the project, finding that the project was proceeding according to expectations, and deserved to continue its developments

Release of the first building blocks

By the end of September, the development of the three building blocks selected by the gap analysis (Metadata Manager, AAA (authentication, authorization, accounting) Manager and Node Manager) was concluded, along with the middleware required to make these components interact within the micro-service architecture that was chosen for implementing the eVRE technical architecture. In parallel, the mappings from the most relevant standard data models to the eVRE ontology, based on the CERIF data model, has been achieved, laying the bases for the interoperability of eVRE with existing RIs that lies at the core of the Project objectives. In the next period, these mappings will be used to produce enhanced eVRE, including key building blocks from the eVRE architecture.

VRE4EIC upcoming initiatives and workshops

VRE4EIC is carrying out an intense activity in organising a series of workshops to engage with e-VRE target user communities and to disseminate project results towards a wider audience. In the coming months, three major VRE4EIC workshops events will take place, all over Europe:

  • VRE4EIC will showcase e-VRE at the IT4RIs18 event in Amsterdam (The Netherlands), on January 18, 2018. IT4RIs will be the 3rd edition in the series of workshops on Interoperable infrastructures for interdisciplinary big data sciences. This event is organised by UvA, a VRE4EIC partner. It will be the opportunity for promoting VRE4EIC assets and collect community feedback on the the e-VRE software building blocks and especially the AAAI service for identity, access and logging management.
  • In spring 2018, another workshop will be organised with EPOS and ENVRIplus under the coordination of INGV, UvA and TU Delft, three VRE4EIC partners. The specific expected outcome of the workshop is to refine e-VRE Reference architecture, interoperability plans and security, privacy and licensing approaches.
  • VRE4EIC is setting up a workshop for early adopters at the upcoming CRIS 2018 (the 14th International Conference on Current Research Information Systems) in Umea (Sweden) in June 2018. The workshop objective is to obtain feedback from potential users on e-VRE architecture, prototype and use cases.

In addition to these major events, VRE4EIC partners are setting up a large number of training and evaluation sessions targeted to supporting the adoption by VRE software architects and developers, as well as collecting feedback for further enhancements. There are thus plenty of opportunities in the next few months to meet with the VRE4EIC partner representatives, and even to get hands-on on the first version of the e-VRE software building blocks.

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This project is partially funded by the European Union