Looking Back, Going Forward: The DuraSpace Roadmap
Outside the Union at the University of Texas, Austin
Austin, TX Sandy Payette, DuraSpace Strategic Advisor and former CEO, opened DSpace and Fedora User Group sessions with a DuraSpace plenary at the Sixth International Conference on Open Repositories in Austin, Texas. She presented a retrospective look at how DuraSpace was founded along with highlights of its development over the last two years. Payette is the creator of the original "Flexible Extensible Digital Object Repository Architecture" (Fedora).
She discussed the history and the related brands of Fedora and DSpace repository projects and organizations that had emerged over a ten-year period. The eventual focus on sustainability led Fedora Commons and the DSpace Foundation to join forces in 2009 to form the DuraSpace not-for-profit organization.
Brad McLean, DuraSpace CTO continued with a look at trends and accomplishments that included a focus on data portability–"roundtripping" DSpace and Fedora with DuraCloud, backing up repositories in DuraCloud and development of an X-platform for re-ingest. He suggested that traditional and hybrid technologies were all part of the the DuraSpace roadmap.
He illustrated several "Fedora Inside" concepts which included Fedora Inside DSpace. This initiative was presented in an OR panel discussion on the topic during conference sessions. "Fedora in the cloud" is an exploration of running service-rich repositories in the cloud. The successful Islandora and Hydra platform initiatives with Fedora inside are also examples of how the Fedora architecture supports flexible and extensible development initiatives.
On the technology horizon McLean sees increasing changes in commonly used computing devices—the continuing trend away away from desktop computers and towards all-mobile devices as well as APIs moving onto the Web and file systems as AppObjects.
Chris Wilper, Fedora Technology Lead, opened the Fedora Roadmap presentation with a look at recent Fedora releases leading up to the current Fedora 3.5 release. He also highlighted improvements to the open source process that enables Fedora development including the migration to GitHub making it easier for Fedora's 12 committers to provide a steady stream of code contributions. Wilper said, "There are multiple community tech leads for Fedora." Each software release is led by a different committer with assistance from many others.
Fedora 3.5 will include 20 new features and sets the stage for a pluggable Fedora future with Spring. A photo of a beautiful sports car accompanied Wilper's introduction to Fedora 3.6 features which focus on performance and stability. This will be the last 3.x release due out late in 2011, and will include bottleneck analysis, stress testing, performance improvements, repeatable tests, move to a modern web services stack, and integration with CXF, a Google Summer of Code project.
Wilper touched on CloudSync, a new web-based utility for backing up and restoring Fedora content in DuraCloud. It supports on-demand and scheduled backups of any content in a Fedora repository, including externally-managed datastreams.
Tim Donohue, DSpace Technology Lead, walked the audience through introductions to 21 current DSpace committers, and several recent accomplishments which include a record 4 releases in one year and significant Google Summer of Code contributions from student programmers.
He reminded the audience that DSpace is 9 years young with over 1,000 installed repositories worldwide and a mature, stable track record. In the future Donohue sees DSpace moving towards a "community garden" architecture where, "You and your friends can interact with your "beautiful thing," enhance your "beautiful thing," and, in a sense, "garden" your data. He quoted Rufus Pollack, by saying, "The coolest thing to do with your data will be thought of by someone else," and called for support of "data gardening" by opening DSpace data and services any sites through API access to data.
VIPs–very important DSpace projects—include REST API development, the Fedora Inside initiative, a common business tier, further modularization of DSpace, and a Curation Task System.
Jonathan Markow, Chief Strategy Officer, began his discussion of DuraSpace initiatives by pointing out that what makes open source software development work is thriving communities.
The DuraSpace Community Roadmap includes increased support for community education and training, building on existing and new strategic collaborations, continued work on the NSF Datanet inititative, collaboration with the Hydra and Islandora projects, developing collaborations around the "Fedora Inside" initiative and the Fedora-Duracloud hybrid.
Markow noted that the concept of markets as part of an open source business model may be hard to grasp at first. Community-based open source software development, however, moves more rapidly with wide participation from among many different types of organizations and institutions. He offered a view of DuraSpace current markets– university libraries, and university IT—and suggested that individual researchers, public institutions, governments, museums, public broadcasting and not-for-profits presented additional opportunities for community expansion.
How will DuraSpace accomplish this? Frameworks for community growth include community programs: solution communities; community advisory teams which are a forum for repository managers who want to communicate about and support software development; the DSpace Ambassadors program that includes volunteers from a number of countries, and; a new educational curriculum initiative that will include guides, screencasts and web seminars to make it easy for entry-level users to learn how to use DuraSpace open technologies.
Michele Kimpton, DuraSpace CEO, concluded the session with a summary of key 2011 initiatives:
•Awareness and advocacy around open source and the projects we support with expansion into additional communities
•The public launch of DuraCloud with evaluation of emerging technologies that will bring it within the scope of our communities
•Integrations with new and existing technologies
•Overall focus on sustaining our organization while building thriving open source communities
She reviewed the trajectory for DuraSpace funding looking out to 2014. Currently 73% of funding comes from grants. By 2014 Kimpton projects only one third of total funding will be derived from grants, one third from sponsorship and the remaining third from services. The DuraSpace Sponsorship Program (http://duraspace.org/sponsors) is an opportunity for institutions and partners to support the ongoing development of DuraSpace open technologies–DSpace, Fedora and DuraCloud—now in its second year.