RENCI partners with DICE at UNC and UCSD to sustain iRODS software

CHAPEL HILL, NC, November 10, 2010 – RENCI Director Stan Ahalt announced today the creation of iRODS@RENCI as a major component of an institute-wide effort to establish robust, sustainable software platforms and practices that support scientific research and innovation.

iRODS@RENCI will support expanded development of the Integrated Rule-Oriented Data System (iRODS) as a leading data management system and will work to enhance iRODS as a sustainable software platform for research teams that need to securely manage, share and archive large data sets over the long term.

iRODS is a data grid software system developed by the Data Intensive Cyber Environments (DICE) research group at UNC Chapel Hill and the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) and its collaborators. The iRODS system is based on more than a decade of user-driven collaboration with iRODS and the earlier Storage Resource Broker (SRB) technology in support of data grids, digital libraries, persistent archives, and real-time data systems.

The broad usefulness of iRODS, which manages many petabytes of data in production environments worldwide, has sparked rapidly growing interest in the software, and with RENCI’s software development experience and expertise in large-scale research environments, the partnership is poised to deliver this award-winning software to even greater numbers of researchers in more communities.

iRODS@RENCI will include data and software experts from multiple RENCI divisions and will be managed by Leesa Brieger, a senior research software developer. Ray Idaszak, director of collaborative environments, will provide general oversight to the iRODS@RENCI team. The team will work closely with the DICE Center at UNC Chapel Hill, led by Reagan Moore, and with the DICE group at UCSD, led by Wayne Schroeder.

“With the teams at RENCI, UNC Chapel Hill and UCSD working together, we will be able to take iRODS to a new level of productization,” said Moore, a professor in UNC’s School of Information and Library Science and a RENCI chief scientist on data issues. “iRODS  has a strong user base and a well documented history of success. Now we will be able to make a major push towards serving new communities of researchers in both academic institutions and federal agencies.”

The collaboration among iRODS@RENCI and the DICE team will allow RENCI and DICE to expand production support for the iRODS’ user communities while ensuring a high level of development support for the features requested by both current and future iRODS users. The collaboration also places RENCI and DICE at the forefront of efforts to apply software engineering and sustainability practices to software created through academic research collaborations.

Creating software that is reliable, accessible and sustainable is a growing issue in the research community today.  Sustaining the software used to manage data collections is even more critical, according to Moore, because collections often remain useful long after a project is completed.  Because software technology changes so rapidly, data management systems must evolve to interoperate with new access mechanisms, enforce new management policies, automate new administrative functions, and validate assessment criteria.

“This is about extending a collaborative software development environment for open source software,” said Ahalt. “We have a very successful research platform in iRODS. We are adding RENCI software development expertise to the picture so we can support interoperability with a broader range of technologies, including data analysis tools, graphical information systems, and advanced visualization systems.

“We want to further iRODS’ growing worldwide stature as the premier open source data management system that is easily usable by large, diverse communities of users.  It’s the kind of software development approach needed to enable software sustainability and in turn, large-scale scientific discovery and innovation.”

For more on iRODS, see the iRODS website.

Learn more about iRODS and RENCI’s data and software initiatives at the following presentations in RENCI’s research exhibit at SC10 (Booth 4647):

RENCI and Cyberinfrastructure Sustainability: 1:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 16

Policy-based Data Management: 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 16

RENCI’s Data Working Group: 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 17

For a full schedule in RENCI’s booth, see