Looking back: outcomes of eInfraCentral
The time has flown by since the start of the project. And now it is time to report back on what eInfraCentral has delivered. Started in January 2017, this Horizon2020-funded project set itself a mission to “ensure that, by 2020, a broader and more varied set of users, from research to industry, can discover and access Europe’s existing and emerging services and resources for research”. The project was one of the first acts to support the emergence of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) by originally addressing the challenge of fragmentation of the e-infrastructure landscape that research communities face, thus enhancing accessibility, discoverability, and comparability of services/resources.
In design, eInfraCentral predates EOSC and the portfolio of EOSC-related projects. As the EOSC scene evolved, so did the project, in particular turning eInfraCentral’s all-inclusive catalogue of e-services and resources into the heart of the EOSC Portal. The European Commission described eInfraCentral in the Implementation Roadmap for the European Open Science Cloud as one of the key building blocks of the EOSC Portal (alongside other H2020 funded projects EOSC-hub and OpenAIRE-Advance). The focus of the other major outcomes of eInfraCentral stayed unchanged.
- Result 1: The Scientific Resources Description Template (SDT) and Classifications
- Result 2: The First Catalogue for the European Open Science Cloud
- Result 3: APIs for enabling EOSC interoperability
- Result 4: Online Services and Assets Representations
- Result 5: A Set of Portal Cataloguing Functionality
- Result 6: Registration services for onboarding in EOSC and analytics and visualisations
- Result 7: A platform for providers to build their own EOSC-Compliant catalogue
Result 1. The widely adopted Service/Resource Description Template
The e-Infrastructure community now recognises that a common approach to both describing and exchanging service-related information is the way forward to enhance discoverability and thus promote potential uptake. The eInfraCentral SDT addressed this goal and it is now widely adopted as the standard scheme for the representation of service-related information in the EOSC Catalogue. The SDT is based on prior modelling efforts that were consolidated by eInfraCentral into the EOSC Catalogue SDT proposition in collaboration with EOSC-hub and OpenAIRE-Advance.
Search for “eInfraCentral+github” or https://github.com/eInfraCentral
Result 2: The First Catalogue for the European Open Science Cloud
One of the major challenges eInfraCentral tried to address was the lack of a harmonised online service catalogue that potential users could explore across Europe. eInfraCentral worked on harmonisation in partnership with five key e-infrastructures, GÉANT, Open-AIRE, PRACE, EGI and EUDAT. The Catalogue approach was to promote and extend best practices followed independently by some of the e-Infrastructures and to enable the harmonisation of service descriptions in a single, common catalogue. One of the key evolutions of eInfraCentral was turning eInfraCentral’s all-inclusive catalogue of e-services and resources into the EOSC Catalogue. The targeting ecosystem for the EOSC Catalogue includes the e-infrastructures alongside the rich diversity of other research infrastructures and projects. More than 20 service providers offering more than 300 resources are now part of the EOSC Catalogue.
To make it easier to understand and navigate the platform, this User Guide is for you!
Result 3. The Application Programming Interfaces (API)
eInfraCentral developed a rich set of REST API methods for the exchange of information from service/resource providers to the Catalogue portal as well as its provisioning to third-party applications. The APIs offer the functionality to authenticated users to programmatically add and update a service, as well as access, search and retrieve the contents of the catalogue, such as services, service providers, service performance indicators, usage statistics, as well as terms and vocabularies used for service classification.
Result 4. Online Services and Assets Representations
eInfraCentral provides a rich way for the online detailed representation of services. When the user clicks on a service they see a detailed description of that service, including all the information included in the SDT about the usage of a service, its coverage, contractual and support info, etc., organised in thematic areas. Access to the provider’s service page and ordering information for the service are highlighted as links next to the service description. Other information such as training material and user manuals, or contractual information for the price of the service or its SLAs are also clickable links that take users to the provider’s site. Also, from the service results page users can select one or more services and compare their characteristics. The service comparison page presents selected services in a table, with each comparable attribute in a row. The user can scroll down to see more details on the comparable attributes
Result 5. A Set of Portal Cataloguing Functionality
eInfraCentral landing page offers intuitive ways to the users to access and start browsing the service catalogue. A free text search box is available for the users to quickly start browsing the catalogue. The Catalogue groups all services into high-level categories, so users can easily browse services belonging to a specific category of their interest. Users can select their role and navigate to the services and functionality available for each role. The resulting page lists service overviews and shows the main interface for service filtering and the search facility. Users can enter search criteria in the form of free text in the search area. The results are presented in the main panel in the form of service overviews, from where the user can apply filters on the Category, Language, Provider, TRL and the Lifecycle status of a service. The user can also set the presentation of the service overviews in either list or tile form by clicking the corresponding buttons on the right.
Result 6. Registration services for onboarding in EOSC and analytics and visualisations
Service providers can log in to the EOSC Catalogue and follow the onboarding process for registering their organisation and its services in the Catalogue by clicking the “For providers” menu and selecting the option “Become a Provider”. The onboarding process has two steps:
- The user first applies for their organisation to become a service provider in the EOSC Catalogue by filling in a list of questions regarding the catalogue of services they offer.
- If the offered service catalogue is relevant to the EOSC Catalogue, the provider is asked to complete a copy of the EOSC Catalogue service description template. The EOSC Catalogue team assesses and validates the relevance and maturity of service and proceeds with the registration of the provider.
Result 7. Build your own catalogue!
If you are a Service Provider, you can also build your own catalogue of services using the results of eInfraCentral. You can use the eInfraCentral platform to host a catalogue of services at your site. You can deploy the eInfraCentral open-source software to your servers and have your services published using the same format standards and functionality that the eInfraCentral and EOSC Catalogue offer. Some advantages:
- YOU can create a fully functional catalogue of services, white-labelled with YOUR organisation’s brand, which can be administered by YOUR staff.
- YOUR services can be made publicly available, represented in the EOSC-compliant format, i.e. no additional transformation is required to publish them in the EOSC format.
- The available APIs will make the exchange of new/updated services from YOUR catalogue to the EOSC catalogue a seamless operation. YOU will only update the information in YOUR catalogue and EOSC Catalogue harvest automatically any updates.
We are currently working with GÉANT and have already followed this path with OpenAIRE and OpenMinTeD.
Want to know how it looks like? Please check here how their catalogues look like: http://catalogue.openaire.eu/search and https://services.openminted.eu/home
If you are interested in this collaboration, the eInfraCentral technical team will provide needed support to setup your catalogue. Just get in touch! firstname.lastname@example.org