Data Centres in the Virtual Observatory context
Data Centres are an essential component of the Virtual Observatory, publishing data, metadata and services, and providing the physical storage and computational fabrics. The VO development is a strong incentive to share data and knowledge, and many teams are willing to provide data and services in their domains of expertise. 'Classical' data centres, such as ground-and space-based observatory archives, and generalist data centres, are key providers of added-value services and tools. More and more teams are willing to join with value-added services and tools in specific domains, and VO 'data centres' work in very different contexts - national or international Agencies, scientific laboratories - , and are highly diverse in size and objectives, from small and specific to large and general. Common keywords are the willingness to provide a service to the community
, provision of added-value
built on expertise, some kind of sustainability
, and concern for quality
. Lessons learnt from the long term history of astronomical data centres show that when beginning these activities, critical parameters are in particular having a critical mass
adapted to the goals, and ensuring medium-term sustainability
, which requires at least a strong support from the local authorities. An important factor to win community support, which is indispensable to secure funding, is to find a national and/or international niche
Many types of contribution are possible: data archives, with a particular emphasis put on 'science ready' data; added-value data bases, services; tools, software suites and algorithms, for instance for data visualisation, data analysis and data mining; thematic services to help solving a well-defined science question; full data analysis or reasearch environments. New types of services are emerging, with in particular theoretical services, providing modelling results, or matching models with observations.
EuroVO-DCA will help European data centres to integrate their data and services in the VO framework, and to improve efficiency by sharing expertise and reusing experience. It will gather feedback from implementation and new technology requirements from the data centres, and will transmit them to the Euro-VO Technology Centre and the IVOA.
- 05 Oct 2006