Study on AAA platforms and services for scientific data/information resources in Europe.
The rapid development and adoption of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have enabled the provisioning of e-Infrastructures, a distributed environment to share resources (hardware, software and content) and access them wherever required for research purposes; this has changed the way researchers work, enabling almost instantaneous collaboration regardless of physical location and has provided access to an enormous amount of scientific information that can be processed on powerful computational platforms.
A platform able to handle different levels of access to heterogeneous content is referred to as the Scientific Data e-Infrastructure (SDI). The goal of the SDI is to ensure access to different types of content and to allow for flexible, reliable, efficient, cross-disciplinary and cross-border access; at the same time it is important to protect data integrity and ownership and ensure data authenticity as well as data confidentiality. It is also important to ensure that data access is available to everybody, in light of open exchange of knowledge that has been and remains one of the main drivers for research.
The goal above presents at the same time opportunities and challenges, mostly related to data access, data management and governance, data curation and long-term preservation.
The SDI requires sophisticated mechanisms for authentication, authorization and accounting (AAA). Such mechanisms are already deployed in the existing e-Infrastructures, although further evolution is required to satisfy all requirements. Offering the SDI by simply creating a new AAA platform without any assessment of the state-of-the art would not be desirable from a cost perspective or from a usability perspective. Furthermore, the existing infrastructures already offer, to a large extent, the necessary functionality.
The study will assess existing AAA-infrastructures; it will identify use-cases for the SDI as well as the ability for the existing AAA-infrastructures to address these use-cases. The study will also examine the gaps in providing the necessary infrastructure to support the use-cases and explore the work that is being done in the existing AAA-infrastructures to address those needs.
The study is organized in two parts/stages:
- Part I – Assessment of the state-of-the art of the current Authentication and Authorisation Infrastructures (AAI) for e-Science.
This part will cover the rationale (mostly in the context of the added value for science and society) for building an AAI and will compare scalability, governance (and stakeholders), policies and the widely used technologies; an evaluation of how existing AAI deployed for research and education (in Europe and beyond) could also be used to support other sectors will be provided as well.
During this phase of the study, use-cases will be identified via interviews with different user-groups, such as R&E communities, Information Services providers (data centres, libraries), e-Science users and so on.
- Part II – Existing and emerging infrastructures analysis to address identified use-cases.
A strengths and weaknesses study (SWOT Analysis) of the existing infrastructure to support the identified use-cases will be carried out.
This part of the study will also describe scenarios that would benefit from an integrated AAA and evaluate options to deliver an integrated and manageable AAA/AAI for SDI (or e-Infrastructure).
The results of the SWOT analysis will also be used to address data protection, access issues, trust issues, and access policies at pan-European level.
The outcome of this part of the study will:
- Describe the rationale for the integrated SDI and its added value to access, store and preserve heterogeneous data;
- Provide recommendations for adapting the existing, widely used platforms and services to be fully compliant with the requirements posed by the use of data/information resources (papers, catalogues, raw data, images, etc).
- Provide recommendations on how the European regulations could support such an integrated SDI;
- Provide technical recommendations for developers to favour specific technologies to ensure future inter-operability;
- Address the (organizational, legal and technical) challenges to provide pan-Europe AAA/AAI for SDI/e-Infrastructure.
This project was awarded by European Commission to the Consortium composed of the following four partners: TERENA, LIBER, University of Amsterdam, and University and National Library of Debrecen.
SNE role and contribution
SNE will lead the work to assess the state-of-the art of the existing AAA infrastructures used by the research and education community, collect requirements from the scientific community, define requirements to the AAI for future SDI that should be able to support the whole scientific data lifecycle, evaluate existing AAI technologies, solutions and practices.
 AAA Study Home Page