AARC builds teams and plans for the 2nd project

Plans and priorities for work in the second AARC project took shape during a kick off meeting held on 6-8 June in the German health resort town Bad Herrenalb. This Black Forest retreat provided a comfortable setting for participants to get to know each other, discuss expectations and refine plans for the next 6 months, with a new focus on community engagement.

Many thanks to Marcus Hardt and Uros Stevanovic of KIT for arranging the event!

Work package leaders from the first AARC project presented overviews of the main achievements between 2015-2017:

  • Christos Kanellopoulos (GÉANT – formerly GRNET) reported on the AARC blueprint architecture (see also related infoshare). This will be the starting point for all future work. The architecture team is now led by Nicolas Liampotis (GRNET).
  • David Groep (Nikhef) encouraged participants to look at the policy side, namely Sirtfi (the security incident framework), Snctfi (the policy framework for the proxy component identified in the AARC blueprint architecture), the guidelines to handle personal information for accounting (see also the related infoshare) and sustainability guidelines.
  • Paul van Dijk (SURFnet) gave an overview of the 18 pilots that had been successfully carried out. Some were aimed at libraries while others ease the adoption of federated access for research- and e-infrastructures. Some are now production services.
  • Laura Durnford (GÉANT) reported on the training and outreach materials. The main results can be found at two specific sections: the library toolkit and the toolkit for infrastructures. Laura also reminded participants that the AARC video is a good introduction to AARC and its scope.

Requirements gathering

In a team-building exercise participants split into groups representing different project work packages and different research communities or infrastructures for a ‘carousel’ of discussions to explore requirements and how the project can address them.

  • Policy: One main aspect to address is the provenance of attributes and their ‘trustworthiness’. We are moving more and more towards scenarios in which attributes from multiple sources need to be aggregated. As we continue to engage with more research communities, the trust landscape becomes more heterogeneous. Work on the policy side will focus on:
    • assurance profiles to access sensitive data;
    • code of conduct(s) – how can we use them outside the EU and for member state organisations (e.g. CERN)? See also the Petr Holub infoshare on this topic;
    • aggregation of attributes from different communities and provenances;
    • define a policy development plan supporting new communities;
    • promote adoption of incident response and Snctifi.
  • Architectures: The AARC blueprint architecture is proving to be very sound. Non-web use-cases still abound and although AARC does have some solutions, more investigation is needed. The list of requirements is still very valid, and will be re-prioritised in the coming months. The architecture team will further explore aspects regarding authorisation. To ensure wider participation beyond AARC, all the technical discussion for this work package will move to the appint@lists.geant.org mailing list.
    • Nicolas Liampotis also reported on work that Mikael Linden started in November 2017 to map and align AAIs between EGI / EUDAT / GÉANT / PRACE. A comparative analysis was made of their AAI platforms with the idea of keeping the analysis technology agnostic and producing an interoperability profile.
  • Training and outreach: An interesting discussion started on whether AARC should provide recommendations for e- / research-infrastructures to build user-friendly login interfaces. AARC recommends developers to follow the REFEDS discovery guidelines https://discovery.refeds.org/. A revision of the discovery model is ongoing also in the GN4 project. More information will be shared as soon as available. For the training and outreach package the focus for the next months will be on:
    • understanding the needs of the research communities that are participating in AARC to deliver the appropriate training, using a menu of existing materials and a survey: http://goo.gl/BUiYT3.
    • reviewing the federation 101 package;
  • Pilots: There are very heterogeneous requirements, even within just the biomedical research community. The picture below summaries the key requirements.

Petr Holub (BBMRI-ERIC) noted that most of the research infrastructures would prefer not to run their own AAI; biomedical communities (and more in general the life science communities) advocate that e-infrastructures should run AAI components that match the needs of the research communities. To this end, it was agreed to use AARC to identify the life science communities’ requirements, map them to existing components operated by e-infrastructures, identify gaps and run some pilots. The results will be made available to e-infrastructures to define business models and run the necessary AAI components in the longer term.

Increased community engagement

Christos Kanellopoulos gets feedback on the Community Engagement Forum.

During the Bad Herrenalb meeting AARC officially presented plans for two new groups through which to engage with research communities and with infrastrcutures:

  • The Community Engagement Forum creates a communication channel between AARC and FIM4R. The goal is to:
    • promote and seek feedback on the results of AARC pilots, architecture and policy via FIM4R and the communities FIM4R engages with;
    • learn about research emerging research requirements.
  • The AARC Engagement Group for Infrastructures (called the Competence Centre in meeting slides) brings together the e-infrastructures to:
    • promote a consistent vision for federated access and facilitate activities so that different e-infrastructures develop harmonised solutions and avoid ‘re-inventing the wheel’;
    • showcase the project results and get commitment to sustain the relevant results;
    • consult the expertise of participants for feedback into the project activities.

I also reminded all participants to review the AARC strategy to get guidance on the AARC directions. The strategy will also inform the dissemination and exploitation plan to be shared soon. We will continue to use the AARC existing wiki, the website is being revamped and updated, and an AARC slack channel has been created. The infoshares will continue as per usual.

All is in place now to finalise and execute the plans discussed in Bad Herrenalb.