VREs are synonymous with Science Gateways (SGs) in the USA and Virtual Laboratories (VLs) in Australia, and are increasingly being used to support a more dynamic approach to collaborative working across the internet. The proposed VRE-IG will explore all aspects of existing and planned future VRE/SG/VLs with the aim of moving towards common policies and best practices, such as those now being promoted by the European EOSC, the US XSEDE and the Australian NRDC. There is currently no coordination of the development of the underlying architectures, as well as specifications for components and interfaces in any of these initiatives, nor is there any agreed best practice way to connect to the major research infrastructures, in particular data to compute resources. Likewise there is also no mechanism for sharing best practice, skills, tools and software that connect tools to data in online environments that could ultimately allow these individual VREs to interoperate on a global scale. The goal is to create "building blocks" of common data infrastructures and building specific "data bridges" to enable online sharing and in situ processing of data. The US SGCI - started in August 2016 - starts to work on these challenges for the US and will closely collaborate with this IG.
The VRE IG will aim to act as a longer-term organization responsible for tracking and contributing to the evolution of VRE/SG/VL technologies, particularly as they relate to data access. It will also seek to engage with those seeking to make use of these online technologies in an effort to identify the necessary technical aspects, social and community building practices, required skills, as well as governance issues and best practice required to support a more coordinated approach to the development of the collaborative environments that enable data sharing and in situ online processing.
The proposed VRE-IGgroup is in effect, an ‘umbrella group’ would bring together:
Those initiatives that are actively developing VRE/SGs/VLs internationally;
Representatives of the common e Infrastructure (eIs) services e.g., European Data Infrastructure (EUDAT); European Open Science Cloud (EOSC); US XSEDE; and the Australian National Research Data Cloud (NRDC); and
Specific RDA groups (e.g., software citation, metadata IG, Versioning IG, etc.) that are developing outputs that themselves are best practice inputs to groups developing VREs.