International Consortium Planned to Support Sustained, Robust Data Management Technology

November 7, 2012

Dr. Reagan MooreSALT LAKE CITY - A new consortium to be formed by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and members of the Max Planck Society, Germany’s most successful research organization, will work to develop a popular open source data management solution called the integrated Rule-Oriented Data System (iRODS) into a sustained, production-quality technology for data management, sharing and integration.

Plans to establish the Enterprise iRODS (E-iRODS) Consortium will be introduced at SC12, the annual international conference of high performance computing, networking, storage and analysis. Demonstrations and information will be available in the RENCI/North Carolina booth on the SC exhibit floor (3640) and at an event Wednesday at the Salt Lake Marriott Downtown at City Creek, featuring representatives of RENCI, the Max Planck Society, the Data Intensive Cyber Environments (DICE) group at UNC at Chapel Hill and iRODS users such as NASA, the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT and Distributed Bio.

iRODS, developed by members of the DICE group, professors at the School of Information and Library Science at UNC at Chapel Hill and the University of California, San Diego, provides researchers in academia and government labs with distributed, policy-based data management technologies. In 2011, RENCI (UNC’s Renaissance Computing Institute) began working with the DICE group to develop E-iRODS, a branch of the iRODS software that is easier to use, simpler to integrate into commercial enterprises, backed up by extensive testing, and provides the support, security, and ongoing bug fixes usually associated with commercial software.

Through the planned E-iRODS Consortium, UNC Chapel Hill and its partners at the Max Planck Society seek to bring together universities, research organizations, businesses, and government agencies to guide the continued development of E-iRODS, obtain funding to support that development, and broaden the iRODS/E-iRODS user community. The consortium’s vision is to build E-iRODS into an open source data management system with the robustness, stability, documentation and development cycle of commercial software—a critical need for researchers and businesses as data sets grow larger and data sharing and access become more challenging.

The E-iRODS Consortium will be managed by an executive director and chief technologist based at RENCI. Software development and documentation teams at RENCI and the Max Planck Society will produce well-tested, production-quality software for deploying iRODS data management systems, supporting applications that depend on iRODS technologies, and for extending iRODS technologies.

“This consortium has the potential to benefit all iRODS users by creating a framework that supports the kind of development, testing and support usually associated with commercial software,” said Reagan Moore, professor in UNC Chapel Hill’s School of Information and Library Science, head of the DICE team that developed iRODS and domain scientist for data management at RENCI. “When it is up and running, we look forward to working with the consortium to expand and enhance our software and to build a broader iRODS user community.”

E-iRODS Consortium at SC12
Participants in SC12 interested in learning more about the E-iRODS Consortium are encouraged to attend the presentation “Enterprise iRODS and the E-iRODS Consortium,” in the RENCI/North Carolina booth (3640) at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13, or 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14, or to stop by the booth any time during the week to discuss E-iRODS and the E-iRODS Consortium. 
Additionally, an informational reception about iRODS and E-iRODS from will be held from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14, in the Solitude Room at the Salt Lake Marriott Downtown at City Creek, 75 S. West Temple, across the street from the Salt Palace Convention Center. Veteran iRODS users will talk about their data challenges and how iRODS helps them and representatives of the DICE group, RENCI, and the Max Planck Society will be on hand to talk about iRODS, E-iRODS and membership in the E-iRODS Consortium. Hot and cold hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar will be available.

“SC12 will be our first chance to talk to research communities about their data challenges and how they could benefit from being involved in the E-iRODS Consortium,” said Charles Schmitt, director of data initiatives at RENCI. “We invite any group looking for data solutions—whether they are current iRODS users or not—to attend this reception.”

Courses involving iRODS technology, such as INLS 490-161, "Building a Personal Digital Library,"  are frequently taught at SILS. For more information about coursework, please visit the Web site: http://sils.unc.edu/courses