iRODS

iRODS software was designed to allow curators utilising heterogeneous storage and computing facilities to define policies without being concerned with the technical detail of how the system implements those policies and without having to respond to changes in technical infrastructure. It was built as a successor to the DICE Storage Resource Broker (SRB), which provides a unified interface for dealing with data in disparate locations.  While SRB provides global, logical mappings to the digital entities registered in a shared collection, iRODS takes this further, adding the capacity to create unified administrative policies and processes, which act across all data sources.  The system creates a virtual collection, allowing the user to interact with their stored data without needing to keep track of, or even have ultimate control over, the storage and computing facilities hosting the information.  

Provider

The iRODS Consortium, which at the time of writing consists of RENCI (Renaissance Computing Institute) and DICE (Data Intensive Cyber Environments Center) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, DDN (DataDirect Networks), the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, EMC Corporation, and Seagate.

Licensing and cost

BSD License – free.

Development Activity

iRODS 4.0.3 was released in August 2014. Development is ongoing, supported by contributions from iRODS Consortium members.

Platform and interoperability

iRODS is hardware agnostic, and its servers can run on Linux, Solaris, Macintosh, AIX, or Windows. The iCAT Metadata Catalog requires either PostgreSQL (which is included in the install package), Oracle, or MySQL.

It includes APIs in C, Unix shell, Java, Python, Kepler, Taverna, and Web.  iRODS is interoperable with other data management systems, such as Fedora and Dspace.

Functional notes

iRODS uses a data grid architecture, running Server software and a Rule Engine on each server that will become part of the virtual repository. A separate, unique iRODS iCAT Metadata Catalog uses a database to track descriptive and preservation metadata.  Users determine workflows and automated tasks that the Rule Engine carries out regardless of the originating server.

While instructions are provided for migrating from iRODS 3.3.x to 4.0, the process is complicated as some reconfiguration would be needed to take advantage of new functionality.

Documentation and user support  

Various form of documentation are provided, which includes a manual, a technical oveview, and numerous tutorials and slide decks. Community support is available from the highly active iRODS-Chat Google Group, while an email address is supplied for users to contact the technical team. Issues may be reported through the issue tracker at the GitHub source code repository. Some additional documentation, particularly for community-contributed code, is available on the legacy iRODS wiki.

The iRODS Consortium offers professional services, maintenance contracts, priority member support, training and certification.

Usability

iRODS provides GUI, Web, WebDAV, and command line interfaces.

Expertise required

Installation and configuration greatly benefit from system administration and grid computing knowledge, as well as a deep understanding of repository structures and workflows.

Standards compliance

No information available.

Influence and take-up

iRODS is widely used in the research community, in high performance computing projects, and in preservation environments and digital libraries.  Examples include the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC), the NSF TeraGrid, the National Archives Transcontinental Persistent Archives Prototype (NARA TPAP), and the French National Library. The website provides an incomplete list of iRODS users.

Last reviewed: 
27 November, 2014