FORS builds with SWITCH

FORS relies on SWITCHengines to host a new data and research information management service. SWISSUbase allows academic institutions and their affiliated researchers to manage and share the information and data of their research projects in line with the FAIR principles, thus fulfilling the requirements of funders and journals.

Text: Graeme Baillie, published on 04.09.2019

In our ever more data driven world, the generation and sheer volume of information in the research field is driving the need for the move to a cloud native approach. This allows for better controlling and managing data. SWISSUbase as a common infrastructure is also more cost-efficient and reduces the need for complex technical development and administration at each individual research center. This enables the researchers to do what they do best – focus on the data and analysis.

FORS, the Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences, with a staff of 50 has been fulfilling its mandate in three main areas. Firstly, designing and conducting surveys, collecting data and end to end management of the data lifecycle, including the archival process according to international standards. Secondly, the creation of custom tools and methods to facilitate the processes as well as services to guide and help researchers with expertise and best practices; and finally, the abstraction and derivation of the data to perform thematic and methodological conclusions.

Based on its tried-and-tested FORSbase solution, the institution has developed SWISSUbase together with University of Zürich and University of Lausanne, a novel modular approach to capture and share research dataallowing for adaptation to the needs of different research disciplines and institutional units. Funded by the swissuniversities P-5 Program and facilitated by technology provided by SWITCH, SWISSUbase enables a multitude of institutions and disciplines controlled and federated access to carefully curated datasets.

Granular access and user management with SWITCH edu-ID

The SWISSUbase platform is built on SWITCHengines. It leverages SWITCH edu-ID to facilitate granular access and user management, as well as SWITCHdrive which performs the role of a workspace for sharing data between members of project teams and institutions.

In the world of containers FORS are also investigating and evaluating a re-architecture towards a microservice based approach. It is based on the Openshift enterprise platform (currently in pilot) with a managed installation also run on SWITCHengines. 

100% retention of data within Switzerland

The community cloud infrastructure provided by SWITCHengines, enables the computation and storage capacity that such a platform demands. Dual datacenters in Zürich & Lausanne, object level redundancy, and in particular the 100% retention of data within Switzerland allows FORS to fulfil all necessary regulatory requirements and to comply to CoreTrustSeal certification.

SWISSUbase may in the near future require large scale data capacity (up to 10 Petabyte), which can be easily provisioned on demand in just a few simple steps. In addition, storage is fully s3 compatible. Taking the super speedy SWITCHlan into account, data transfer is fast and smooth. Most importantly, data control conforms to two key standards: high availability and sustainability.

Further information:

FORScenter.ch

swissubase.ch/

switch.ch/engines

About the author
Graeme   Baillie

Graeme Baillie

Graeme has been with SWITCH since May 2019 and specializes in Cloud Solutions. In previous roles in the finance, telecoms and education fields Graeme has helped to increase competency of cloud and microservice based architectures. He is active in the community and holds interests in digital transformation, psychology and generative music.

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