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Newsletter, issue 5 june 2019

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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! contact@einfracentral.eu

The road we took

All the above results were built gradually between January 2017 and June 2019 and by bringing onboard contributions from the partners and EOSC-related stakeholders.

The road ahead

Members of the eInfraCentral consortium continue to collaborate with ongoing EOSC projects such as EOSC-hub, OpenAIRE-Advance and EOSC Secretariat and especially until the outcome of the INFRAEOSC-06-2019-2020 call is clear. At this stage the results of the eInfraCentral project will move forward for further implementation

One of the ongoing collaboration and application of parts of the eInfraCentral project’s results is with the new Horizon2020-funded project CatRIS (Catalogue of Research Infrastructures Services). In line with the development of the catalogue of e-Infrastructure services within eInfraCentral and addressing the need to complement this resource with information on services offered by physical infrastructures, the CatRIS project aims to build an open, trusted and user-friendly portal to a harmonised and aggregated catalogue of services and resources provided by Research Infrastructures and Core Facilities across Europe. It is a bottom-up initiative that is meant to be populated and run by service providers at European, national, regional and institutional levels. CatRIS will be complementary to and interoperable with the EOSC catalogue

If you are interested in learning more about CatRIS, please follow their developments:

What partners and service providers say

“A central service catalogue including all available services provided by the European e-Infrastructures is a key element for the development of the European Cloud Initiative”

PRACE, as the European HPC Infrastructure, is enabling high-impact scientific discovery and engineering research and development across all disciplines to enhance European competitiveness for the benefit of society. With our engagement in eInfraCentral we wanted to enhance the visibility and accessibility of e-infrastructure services in general. A central service catalogue including all available services provided by the European e-Infrastructures is a key element for the development of the European Cloud Initiative” says Florian Berberich, Member of PRACE Board of Directors.

“eInfraCentral will play a foundational role”

GÉANT is fundamental to European e-infrastructures, delivering the pan-European GÉANT network for scientific excellence, research, education and innovation. As one of the partners in the eInfraCentral project, GÉANT and its partners worked with eInfraCentral to ensure that information and access to e-infrastructure services across Europe is as open as possible and that users are able to make effective, informed choice” says Michelle Williams, Service Product Manager, GÉANT.

”The eInfraCentral’s Service Description Template meets the needs of the demanding context and market”

"The H2020 funded project BlueBRIDGE (Building research environments fostering Innovation, Decision making, Governance and Education for Blue Growth) focuses on tailored data management services to different communities and stakeholders. The eInfraCentral Service Description template is largely suitable for meeting the needs of this demanding context and market. Among the many benefits, the choice to go with the eInfraCentral template also facilitates the publishing of BlueBRIDGE services in the eInfraCentral catalogue, which is of great importance for reaching additional market sectors.” says Donatella Castelli, Senior Researcher at CNR-ISTI (a partner in eInfraCentral representing OpenAIRE) and coordinator of BlueBRIDGE.

OpenRiskNet provides specialised services for predicted toxicology and risk assessment. On one hand, we want to make them known and easily accessible, which is fostered by a listing in the EOSC Catalogue. On the other hand, these services do not exist in vacuum and will reach their full potential by linking them to other EOSC services. The existing template, including a set of instructions and recommendations, was very useful in this process and facilitates the description of a service,” highlighted Dr Thomas Exner, Chief Scientific Officer of Douglas Connect GmbH and Coordinator of OpenRiskNet.

Showcased across Europe

Over the 30 months of the project eInfraCentral partners presented their work and results at 28 community events across Europe. After the launch of EOSC and the EOSC Portal in November 2018 in Vienna, Austria, eInfraCentral showcased its contribution to EOSC together with other key EOSC projects – EOSCpilot, EOSC-hub, and OpenAIRE-Advance. The final event of the project was an EOSC-community focused event.

“Building Open Science in Europe: The road ahead for EU Member States and the EOSC community”

On 20 June 2019 the eInfraCentral team gathered 62 researchers from public and private sectors, e-infrastructure service providers, research infrastructures and policy-makers to the EOSC community event to present the results of eInfraCentral and to take a forward-looking view and discuss the road ahead for the EOSC community in Europe and in the EU Member States. The slides from the event are available here.

Questions discussed during the event included: Is EOSC a new infrastructure or a framework for research? What are the most important future elements of the EOSC Portal? How to prioritise “diverse” user requirements? How can researchers get involved to drive the evolution of EOSC and EOSC Portal in particular? Should the EOSC Portal provide a foundation for skill training, e.g. via integration of training materials? Looking into the future, how can the success of EOSC portal be defined from the researchers and other user group’s perspective? and many more.

Did you know?

  • European Commission acknowledged eInfraCentral’s important role in building European Open Science Cloud and in helping users make informed choices about what e-infrastructure resources and services are available.
  • Our vision on eInfraCentral in relation to the EOSC is summarised in the Vision Paper “eInfraCentral in the context of the European Open Science Cloud”.
  • More than 300 services and resources of 20 Service Providers from the public and private sector are currently available in the eInfraCentral Catalogue.
  • To understand better how to use the EOSC Catalogue, please read “The eInfra How-to-Guide” A guide for users of eInfraCentral or watch a user tutorial video.
  • All official eInfraCentral deliverables can be accessed on the project website: http://project.einfracentral.eu/about/deliverables
  • Some results are publicly available as OSS: Service/Resource Description Template on GitHub – https://github.com/eInfraCentral
  • eInfraCentral ran from January 2017 until June 2019.
  • The project involved an effort of 138.5 person-months and a budget of €1,499,037.50.
  • A pan-European Consortium brought nine partners from Belgium, Greece, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.
  • EFIS Centre coordinated the project and led WP1 – Project Management and Coordination; WP2 – e-Infrastructure Collaboration Activities (from autumn 2018) and WP5 – Outreach, dissemination and exploitation, JNP led WP3 – Service Catalogue Alignment, University of Athens led WP4 – eInfraCentral Portal, and University of Hannover led (until autumn 2018) WP2 – e-Infrastructure Collaboration Activities. Five leading e-infrastructures GÉANT, EGI, EUDAT, OpenAIRE and PRACE actively contributed to various Work Packages.
  • To learn how it all started, please watch the official project video. Project activities have evolved together with the EOSC developments but the key messages stayed unchanged.

Community events for you!

Autumn 2019

Winter 2019

  • 2nd e-IRC meeting (closed) under Finnish presidency, 3-4 Dec , Helsinki (TBC)
  • Open e-IRG workshop, 4-5 Dec, Helsinki (TBC)

More information on the planned eInfraCentral workshops and conferences will be available on our website and on Twitter.

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