Friday, 19 September 2008

ARCHER: a component of Australian e-Research infrastructure?

At the e-Science All Hands meeting, David Groenewegen from Monash spoke (PPT, also from Nick Nicholas and Anthony Beitz) about the outputs of the ARCHER project, almost finished, intended to provide tools for e-Research infrastructure. They see these e-Research challenges:
  • "Acquiring data from instruments
  • Storing and managing large quantities of data
  • Processing large quantities of data
  • Sharing research resources and work spaces between institutions
  • Publishing large datasets and related research artifacts
  • Searching and discovering"
The tools they have nearly completed (the project finishes this month) include:
  • "ARCHER Research Repository - for storing large datasets, based on SRB
  • Distributed Integrated Multi-Sensor & Instrument Middleware – concurrent data capture and analysis
  • Scientific Dataset Manager (Web) - for managing datasets
  • Metadata Editing Tool
  • Scientific Dataset Manager (Desktop) – for managing datasets
  • Analysis Workflow Automation Tool - streamlining analysis
  • Collaborative Workspace Development Tool - bringing researchers together"
The research repository is based around a simplified version of what they call "CCLRC Scientific metadata", which they said was the only appropriate set of metadata they could find at the time. Here's a simpified diagram:

This does look to me like the metadata for a Current Research Information System (CRIS); I've spoken of these before. Maybe the CERIF metadata might do a similar job? Later we heard that the ANDS programme was to use yet another metadata set or standard (ISO2146); OK guys, I got a bit confused at this point!

Clearly this is a generic system; they also have some customisations coming for crystallographers, including the wonderfully-named TARDIS (The Australian Repositories for Diffraction Images). It's not yet clear to me how domain science curation and domain-specific metadat fit into this model, but I hope to find out more next month.

So where next for ARCHER? David wrote:
  • "Currently testing the tools for release by late September
  • Some tools already out in the wild and in use
  • Expecting that the partners will continue to develop the tools they created
  • New enhanced versions already being worked on
  • Looking at how these tools might be used within ANDS (Australian National Data Service) & ARCS (Australian Research Collaborative Service) and beyond!"
This does look like good stuff!

(I think ARCHER is a collaboration of ANU, James Cook, Monash and Queensland Universities.)

1 comment:

  1. Chris,

    thanks for the positive comments about ARCHER. I was the Technical Architect, and the Project Director for all of 2007. A couple of comments:

    1. Metadata: the CCLRC schema is the internal schema being use by ARCHER to manage all of the metadata associated with the experimental data. ISO2146 is the schema being used by ANDS to develop its discovery service.

    2. Collaborators: ARCHER was a collaboration between Monash, James Cook University and the University of Queensland. ANU isn't involved in ARCHER, but is involved in the Australian National Data Service.


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