I just attended the Science Gateways Community Institute 2017 Conference in Ann Arbor, MI and had a great time learning about the variety of resources available to researchers and developers alike. If you are not familiar with what a science gateway is the basic definition is: a tool that allows science & engineering communities to access shared data, software, computing services, instruments, educational materials, and other resources specific to their discipline. Many science gateways are typically web browser accessible resources and lower the barrier to entry for access to advanced data and computational tools – which should interest those of us in facilitation roles.
The University of Hawai‘i has been developing a science gateway for the Hawai‘i EPSCoR ‘Ike Wai project to provide data and models that address the grand challenge of water sustainability. We are currently working with Agave platform in the construction of this gateway and hoped to expand our knowledge about gateways by attending this conference to deliver a better gateway to our users.
There were a number of gateways introduced during the conference with a few technologies leading many efforts, such as Agave, Apache Airavata, HUBzero and Jupyter. Containers and Jupyter turned out to be two popular topics and seem to be a direction where a number of gateways are headed. Jupyter seems to be chosen in an effort to add more user interaction and flexibility. In addition, to the interaction Jupyter notebooks enable they also provide the ability to capture provenance of work done and the ability to share that work through a notebook file. It is even possible to create a gateway inside a Jupyter notebook and I was lucky enough to attend a tutorial that did just that using Jupyter and Agave that included using Docker and Singularity containers as part of the computational workflow.
So a lot of exciting things happening in the world of science gateways and I encourage folks to find out more through sciencegateways.org to leverage some of these great resources for your user community.