The easy way to the right e-infrastructure services
E-infrastructures are fast becoming essential tools for researchers and industry, providing digital services in data management, computing and networking. An EU-funded project has developed a comprehensive online catalogue of European e-infrastructures to help users make informed choices about what is available.
© Gorodenkoff #200146317, 2019 source:stock.adobe.com
Researchers, entrepreneurs and industry increasingly rely on advances in ICT to help them in their work, and to develop and deliver new products and services. However, making an investment in the most appropriate e-infrastructure service is not always an easy task, because of a lack of information.
The EU-funded EINFRACENTRAL project has taken steps to remedy this situation by developing a common catalogue of European e-infrastructures. The project team has compiled and published information about more than 150 digital services and resources on the EU’s European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) portal. The listed services are being added to continuously and the catalogue is available to use free of charge.
‘The catalogue’s harmonised approach makes it easier for researchers and companies to find useful information about a broad range of e-infrastructure services they may be interested in. And they can also discover new ones, compare various service offerings and assess their relevance by rating them and leaving feedback,’ says project coordinator Alasdair Reid from the European Future Innovation System Centre in Belgium. ‘E-infrastructure providers also benefit as the portal provides a place where they can engage with potential customers.’
From health to atomic science
The project team worked with e-infrastructure providers to devise a harmonised template to describe services and resources. Each entry in the catalogue includes a product description, a run-down of current and potential users, and a map indicating where the service is available. Other details cover service agreements and licensing and where to go for help and training.
The catalogue covers a range of service categories, including data management and storage, support for networking and consulting, cyber-security infrastructure, and software programs to help researchers in areas as diverse as health and atomic science.
The project is committed to improving the usability and accessibility of e-infrastructure services and resources. In September 2018, it moved to what is known as an ‘authentication and authorisation infrastructure’, a technical step that makes it even easier for researchers to use the portal.
Supporting Open Science
‘The whole European community of researchers, along with service providers and policymakers, can easily access the personalised features using their institutional or organisational accounts and credentials,’ says Reid. ‘EINFRACENTRAL also makes use of social logins such as Google or ORCID accounts for users who do not have an institutional account. Soon, we will add more identity providers.’
The system developed by the project team makes it easy for service providers to update their listings. Automated processes mean that when they change information about a service on their own websites, the description will automatically be updated in the catalogue.
The EOSC portal was launched in November 2018 as an environment where researchers, industry players and citizens can publish, find and use each other’s data and tools for research, innovation and educational purposes. Work on the EOSC catalogue will continue in cooperation with other EU-funded projects, most notably EOSC-hub.