What to expect at the iRODS 2024 User Group Meeting

The worldwide iRODS community will gather in Amsterdam, NL from May 28-31

Members of the iRODS user community will meet at the Amsterdam Science Park in Amsterdam, NL for the 16th Annual iRODS User Group Meeting to participate in four days of learning, sharing use cases, and discussing new capabilities that have been added to iRODS in the last year.

The event, sponsored by SURF, RENCI, Globus, and Hays, will provide in-person and virtual options for attendance. An audience of over 100 participants representing dozens of academic, government, and commercial institutions is expected to join.

“We are excited to connect with our user community to learn more about the impact and utility of iRODS on a global scale in fields such as public health, materials science, biotechnology, and more.” said Terrell Russell, executive director of the iRODS Consortium. “In addition to learning from one another’s deployments and use cases, the 2024 iRODS User Group Meeting will provide opportunities to network with users around the world and sow the seeds for future collaboration.”

In May, the iRODS Consortium and RENCI announced the release of iRODS 4.3.2. Along with preparation for work on 5.0.0 and important bug fixes for the 4.3 series, notable updates include the new GenQuery2 parser allowing for richer metadata queries into the catalog, fixes for keyword combinations and bad inputs, a number of documentation additions, and a few new deprecation declarations. 

Another new feature is the S3 API v0.2.0. Many software libraries, tools, and applications now read and write the S3 protocol directly. Last year, the iRODS Consortium announced that the then-new iRODS S3 API could present iRODS via the S3 protocol, and shared details about the requirements, design, and initial implementation. This year, users will hear about the first two releases, the implementation of various endpoints, and the state of Multipart transfers.

During last year’s UGM, users were presented an overview and demonstration of exploratory work with further authentication services such as OAuth 2.0, OpenID Connect, and the iRODS HTTP API. At this year’s event, the iRODS Consortium will share updates through the first three releases of the HTTP API, including optimizations and setting the iRODS server up as an OpenID Connect Protected Resource.

As always with the annual UGM, in addition to general software updates, users will offer presentations about their organizations’ deployments of iRODS. This year’s meeting will feature over 15 talks from users around the world. Among the use cases and deployments to be featured are:

  • iRODS Security Challenges Within an Enterprise Environment. Dow. Dow’s focus on data security necessitates a tailored approach for their internal users, leading to the development of the Scientific Data Management System (SDMS) Query Tool (SQT) — a user-friendly tool designed to facilitate secure access to specific datasets. The current gap with Metalnx for general users is that there is too much control over modifying data and collections. Additionally, it is difficult to synchronize the iRODS users to our existing Azure Security groups for permission management. This talk outlines the development of a Querying Tool utilizing the iRODS C++ API as a backend to communicate with iRODS. The talk will highlight the need for robust security architecture for Enterprise scale applications and where we are hoping to take the project to in the future.
  • Sharing data in a multi-system multi-role environment centered on iRODS. SURF and Erasmus University Rotterdam. SURF, the cooperative association of Dutch educational and research institutions, offers data infrastructure and services to the research communities. Some of its services are based on iRODS and are often used as building blocks for data platforms. One increasingly common architectural component in those platforms is a web portal where researchers can discover data using project specific queries. Once the data are found, they are made available to the researcher, directly, for example, with a download link or indirectly, triggering a copy to a computing environment where they are analyzed. The implementation of such workflow is time consuming. Its maintenance in the long term is often jeopardized by limited support available within the project and design choices too tailored for that use case makes its adoption by other organizations too difficult. We think that it is possible to model that workflow in a generic way as a reusable modular component and in a way flexible enough to support even the more stringent requirements associated with sensitive data. The component relies on iRODS and links together multiple web portals and repositories through an API layer based on FastAPI. We present here a proof of concept developed within the GUTS project, in collaboration with the project’s data management team and the research support.
  •  Integration of iRODS in a Federated IT Service through HTTP and Python API. CC-IN2P3. The Federated IT Service (FITS) project, a collaborative endeavor between the IN2P3 computing center and French national HPC Center named IDRIS, addresses the challenge of managing the escalating data volumes generated by research infrastructures. The project aims to consolidate computing and storage resources while maintaining control over hosting expenses and minimizing the ecological footprint of digital technologies. Within the FITS project, iRODS was selected as the storage pooling solution, leveraging its established use within the IN2P3 Computing Centre. This implementation enables project users to seamlessly access their data without being aware of its physical location. 
  • iRODS-based system turbocharged next-gen sequencing analysis during pandemic and beyond. National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). The Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) has numerous projects in various scientific domains that generate next generation sequencing data. Bioinformatics plays an important role in analyzing and interpreting this sequencing data. To support these analyses, we developed a platform that consists of a High Performance Compute (HPC) cluster, a Linux Scientific Workspace for software development and a Data Management System (DMS) based on iRODS. On top of this DMS, we also created a Job Engine: a tightly integrated process automation tool that manages the automated analyses of sequencing data on the HPC.

Bookending this year’s UGM are two in-person events for those who hope to learn more about iRODS. On May 28, the Consortium is offering beginner and advanced training sessions. After the conference, on May 31, users have the chance to register for a troubleshooting session, devoted to providing one-on-one help with an existing or planned iRODS installation or integration.

Registration for both physical and virtual attendance will remain open until the beginning of the event. Learn more at this year’s UGM at irods.org/ugm2024

About the iRODS Consortium

The iRODS Consortium is a membership organization that supports the development of the integrated Rule-Oriented Data System (iRODS), free open source software for data virtualization, data discovery, workflow automation, and secure collaboration. The iRODS Consortium provides a production-ready iRODS distribution and iRODS training, professional integration services, and support. The world’s top researchers in life sciences, geosciences, and information management use iRODS to control their data. Learn more at irods.org.

The iRODS Consortium is administered by founding member RENCI, a research institute for applications of cyberinfrastructure at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. For more information about RENCI, visit renci.org.