EarthCube Conceptual Design - Scalable Community-Driven Architecture


A complex cyberinfrastructure such as EarthCube requires a well thought out information and system architecture in order to identify the principles, patterns, and relationships between the software, services, and data and their ultimate deployment and integration. The "Scalable Community Driven Architecture" project is funded by EarthCube to develop a conceptual architecture that serves as a high level system blueprint for the definition, construction, and deployment of both existing and new components to ensure that they can be unified and integrated into an evolutionary national infrastructure for EarthCube.This session will feature a combination of presentations and discussions led by the project team. The session is designed to inform the ESIP community about this conceptual architecture and the project's progress, as well as to get feedback from the community to help improve the design.


EarthCube Conceptual Design - Scalable Community-Driven Architecture


Interactive session; goal: get feedback on concept -- are we heading the right direction?



Emily Law, JPL

Setting the Context

  • EarthCube: trying to construct a community-driven dynamic cyberinfrastructure that will support:

    • standards for interoperability

    • infuse advanced tech to improve and facilitate interdisciplinary research

    • enable geoscientists to address challenges by fostering a community-governed effort to develop a common cyberinfrastructure

    • collect, analyze data…

  • funded projects include domain end-user workshops, conceptual designs, building blocks, research coordination networks (RCNs), integrative activities (IAs), governance

  • there are a number of committees:

    • science committee, tech & architecture comm. (TAC), council of data facilities, liaison team, engagement team (& also leadership council)

    • many of these committees have working groups within them; within TAC there’s science use cases, gap analysis, standards, testbed, architecture

  • architecture working group workshop in June

    • high level principles defines, white papers on architecture options for community and TAC review, architecture recommendations for EarthCube


  • want to provide a high level system blueprint for definition, construction, and deployment of both existing and new components to ensure that they can be unified into structure for EarthCube

  • methodology

    • using architecture development lifecycle methodology

      • ID stakeholders, their concerns/needs

      • ID use cases, main drivers

      • selection of architecture frameworks & development of arch. principles

      • development of arch. models

      • capture the arch. artifacts into consolidated report

      • generate rec’s for adoption of architecture for EarthCube program

  • EarthCube can provide visualization platform to compare model & data and place to perform analysis

  • guiding principles

    • scalability (horizontally, vertically), community-driven, open science, interoperability, sustainability, distributed, data model driven

  • needs to support diverse sources of data

  • needs to provide data analytics platform

  • need to take a broader view of all activities in data lifecycle so can provide all of the right functionalities to support the EarthCube community (data generation → data curation → data transport → data ingest → data management → discovery, access, distribution → data analytics → visualization)

  • common model, and then each domain has a domain-specific model on top of that

  • Questions

    • data model driven architecture vs information model -- same? yes.

    • are funded building block projects part of this architecture? we have yet to do that, but it is in our plan

    • the scope of this is enormous -- are you actually _building_ this or just integrating or…? hopefully both; want this to guide implementation; want to support entire data lifecycle from end to end for a long time

    • this is a conceptual architecture/abstraction; this is not a referenced architecture where you specify standards, API...



led by Dan Pilone, Element84 & Emily Law, JPL

  • Richard Gabriel (Carnegie Mellon) study of ultra large scale systems → how we get from systems of systems to repository, etc.

  • tension between community focus or “benevolent dictator” model for designing this system

  • stakeholders

    • do we have the right ones? missing any key ones?

      • careful about all stakeholders being EarthCube people bc they’re funded to figure out what EarthCube is--could be like chasing your own tail

    • do they overlap at all? too much?

    • are they useful to provide use cases and personas that help drive the system?

    • a lot of interoperability problems are solved by people figuring out how to make things work for a concrete project and then you tap that resource to solve problems in other contexts--so would caution against being too precise at ontological level because don’t think that works

  • What are the community priorities?

    • addressing interoperability question!

      • interoperability is not just about metadata, it’s about ability, software, implementation...

    • converting to knowledge has more to do with human activity than infrastructure activity

    • how to maximize compatibility between what’s going on in EarthCube community and repository community

  • what provision would make it possible to incorporate social, economic, other non-geoscience data into this?

    • science data has specific attributes; other data have their own specific attributes, but that doesn’t mean that some of the attributes aren’t in common -- we’ll have to look at specific examples

  • To wrap up, we are looking for input and these opinions are really helpful

  • Where we are:

    • soliciting reviewers for conceptual architecture document (NOW!); frank opinions are welcome

    • then will incorporate feedback and review comments

    • write actionable recommendations and incorporate into final rec

  • if you’re interested in participating, contact emily at [email protected]


If you want to participate or provide feedback, contact Emily Law at [email protected]

Law, E.; Pilone, D.; EarthCube Conceptual Design - Scalable Community-Driven Architecture; Winter Meeting 2016. ESIP Commons , October 2015