28 October 2008

Trusted Repository in the Clouds?

You may have seen that Microsoft has unveiled a cloud computing service, in which data and applications will not be stored on individuals' computers – (reported 27th October at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7693993.stm). The new platform, dubbed Windows Azure, was announced at Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles as "Windows for the cloud". It will be offered alongside the next Windows release, Windows 7.

It is not surprising to see Microsoft taking on established players like Google and Amazon in the rapidly growing business of online software. One may ask, however, what guarantees Microsoft is likely to provide for the continued storage and preservation of data stored in the cloud. Consumers will already have asked similar questions when archiving their photographs or personal data files in online vaults.

As Gavin Clarke has reported (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/10/28/microsoft_blocks_azure_traffic/), if applications posted to the Azure services platform exceed their allocated storage or processing hours, users may actually be turned away. But never mind, while you might not be able to sign up new customers or do any business with your data, Microsoft will look after them. It has promised not to dump data. So that’s ok then.

21 October 2008


A colleague drew my attention today to the service being offered by the MIT Libraries, namely, to help MIT faculty and researchers manage and publish their data – see http://libraries.mit.edu/guides/subjects/data-management/index.html. I did wonder for a moment whether this was a case of the old data/information conundrum but no, they really do mean data, and they’re not talking in terms merely of research papers.

Interestingly, MIT Libraries don’t claim to provide all the necessary resources, but to describe them, giving links to established national data repositories, for example - an approach that would fit nicely with the umbrella solution described in the UKRDS interim report (accessible from http://www.ukrds/ac.uk).

I’d be interested to know how many of the UK’s university libraries are offering resources for managing research data throughout their lifecycle – or even how many have plans to offer that service. Or is everyone awaiting the outcomes from the UKRDS study before making a commitment?

09 October 2008

Roles and Responsibilities for Effective Data Management

Registration is now open for the second DCC/RIN Research Data Management Forum, which will be held on November 26th and 27th at Chancellors Hotel and Conference Centre in Manchester.

Themes explored at the workshop will include: roles and responsibilities associated with data curation and good stewardship; core skills required for these roles; ways in which the various stakeholders might acquire the required skills; and models and working practice to facilitate the exchange of skills.

Full details, including registration information and draft agenda, are available via the DCC website at http://www.dcc.ac.uk/data-forum/

Please note that spaces are limited, so delegates are urged to register sooner rather than later.