Vast geoscience resources (e.g., data, tools, facilities, experts) have been accumulated in the past decades through support from NSF and other agencies. However, it is still a challenge for geoscientists to discover, select, and access resources to accelerate their research. EarthCube is the NSF's strategic effort (NSF, 2011) to address the challenge by building a cyberinfrastructure (CI) to enable the integration, communication, and collaboration among geoscientists from different domains including the solid Earth, atmosphere, oceans, poles, and computational sciences. Three Conceptual Design (CD) projects were selected to investigate frameworks for how an EarthCube system might function and be integrated. This is the DAsHER project (dasher.cloud.gmu.edu). With a three-year development, the EarthCube DAsHER Conceptual Architecture (CA) was designed to support EarthCube to facilitate communication and collaboration in pursuit of collaboration within the geosciences.
This EarthCube CA is developed by leveraging several popular frameworks (i.e., Zachman, Gartner, TOGAF, FEAF, and DoDAF) that have been demonstrated to be efficient in practice for several geoscience projects within the NSF's Spatiotemporal Innovation Center. The EarthCube CA comprises three major components: 1) overview of current geoscience resources and architectures; 2) capabilities of the envisioned EarthCube; and 3) alignment of the proposed CA with the geoscience's community.
This project CA design follows a spiral developments approach (Figure 1) : 1) spiral one analyzed geoscientist workshop reports, and roadmaps for EarthCube architecture requirements ;2) spiral two designed the overall architecture and overview; 3) spiral three designed the detailed conceptual architecture and solicited community feedback; 4) spiral four completed a draft conceptual architecture with community feedback addressed and integrated.
Figure 1. Spiral developments approach
The final design is a four-volume report with different views of the EarthCube conceptual architecture from multiple perspectives (Figure 2). Volume one is an overview of EarthCube and architecture requirements for the initial development. Volume two is the presentation of the architectural design components and viewpoints. Volume three is the dictionary that presents the taxonomies used in this EarthCube CA. Finally, Volume four describes an example of how this conceptual design architecture was used to develop a Polar cyberinfrastructure portal (The design documents are available for editing on our wiki website - http://dasher.cloud.gmu.edu/wiki/).
Figure 2. A final design of four volumes
Next Steps: The report could be used as a conceptual framework for building EarthCube and other geoscience cyberinfrastructure. The design can be adopted as a comprehensive guide for developing a geoscience cyberinfrastructure for multiple stakeholders in the EarthCube community and as a source for priorities to identify topics of interest and priorities in the geosciences.
The DAsHER design is a four-volume report with different views of the EarthCube conceptual architecture from multiple perspectives.
Volume I is an overview of EarthCube and architecture requirements for the initial development. It summarizes the functionalities of the EarthCube Enterprise as a geoscience research engine, a geoscience resource management platform, a geoscience computer service provider, and an interoperability platform for cross-domain studies. The key components of this envisioned EarthCube Enterprise include data sharing, data curation, communication and collaboration infrastructure, and governance. The design principles of this EarthCube Enterprise include interoperability, long-term sustainability, leveraging existing cyberinfrastructure assets, maximizing linkage, and system of systems. Volume I also elaborates the Enterprise Architecture models referenced (i.e., Zachman, Gartner, TOGAF, FEAF, and DoDAF), and DAsHER's strategy on combining the strength of FEAF and DoDAF as well as referencing elements from other relevant architectures.
Volume II is the presentation of the architectural design components and viewpoints, including Capability Viewpoints (CV), Data and Information Viewpoints (DIV), Operational Viewpoints (OV), Project Viewpoints (PV), Service Viewpoints (SvcV), and Standard Viewpoints (StdV).
Figure 3. High-level operational concept
Volume III is the dictionary that presents the taxonomies used in this EarthCube CA. It defines 63 terms that are used in DAsHER conceptual design, and have specific meanings which might be different from the other usage within the community. Besides the definition, this integrated dictionary provides examples in DAsHER of how these terms are used specifically, providing a context for readers to have a better understanding of the definition of the terms. The definitions of terms are determined arbitrarily. Multiple sources are referred, including DODAF, TOGAF, Webster's, Zachman, EC glossary, and CINERGI vocabulary. The dictionary graph illustrates the inter-relationship between terms, and is drawn according to the structure of entity described in Volume I, and the capability graph illustrated in Volume II.
Finally, Volume IV describes an example of how this conceptual design architecture can be used to develop a Polar cyberinfrastructure portal to achieve data discovery and access capabilities. The design and development process of the Polar CI is described. The requirements of a polar CI is drawn from the capabilities and services from Volume II. According to the requirements, a set of capabilities are developed, including resource discovery, data archiving and publishing, data analysis, quality, and semantics. These capabilities are achieved by the corresponding components: Search broker and Data harvesting middleware, Data warehouse, Visualization tool, QoS (Quality of Service) engine, and Semantic engine. These components can further provide the following services: Distributed search service, Visualization service, Catalog service, Data Discovery Service, Publishing Service, Ontology Service, Quality Assessment/Validation service, and Knowledge Reasoning service. This use case serves as an approach to utilize and evaluate the conceptual design.