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1. 'Interoperability. A quick chat, a few war stories'. Carl Wilson, Open Planets Foundation.


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Succeed Interoperability Workshop. 2nd October, 2014. The Hague (The Netherlands).

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1. 'Interoperability. A quick chat, a few war stories'. Carl Wilson, Open Planets Foundation.

  1. 1. Interoperability A quick chat, a few war stories...
  2. 2. The OPF team Community Manager ● Events (face-to-face/virtual) ● Training (staff development) ● Comms (web/email/social) Executive Director ● Membership (engagement/value) ● Open preservation advocacy ● Operational management Technical Lead ● Infrastructure (host/test) ● Software stewardship (roadmap/maturity/packaging) ● Data corpora
  3. 3. About OPF Trying to help institutions create robust digital preservation workflows by: ● sharing knowledge and best practise; ● improving the quality of digital preservation software.
  4. 4. Introduction Here to set the scene by: ● Defining interoperability ● Providing a personal perspective ● Covering a few engineering fundamentals ● Looking for an easier way
  5. 5. Interoperability “is the ability of making systems and organisations work together (inter-operate).” straight from Wikipedia
  6. 6. Origins? Coined in IT and system services to allow for information exchange.
  7. 7. But it’s not just an IT thing A broader definition also considers: ● social issues ● political & organisational factors that “impact system to system performance”
  8. 8. Another “definition” “Task of building coherent services for users when the individual components are technically difficult and managed by different organisations.” Wikipedia again
  9. 9. Who’s in the interoperability game? ● Information professionals ● Software engineers ● Staff who work on distributed projects ● People dealing with complexity
  10. 10. Sound like anyone we know? So those of us lucky enough to work in IT for Information professionals on collaborative projects it’s welcome to interoperability X 3…..
  11. 11. It’s an older problem than IT =?
  12. 12. Old and international...
  13. 13. But IT does it better... The UK NHS National Program for IT ● biggest civilian IT project of its kind ● “mashups” for health records ● in theory 2003 - 2007 costing £2.4 billion ● in reality 2003 - 2011 costing £13 billion ● incidentally it didn’t work…….
  14. 14. But it’s possible in real life
  15. 15. And it’s possible in IT….. Think of a system that is: ● decentralised ● fault tolerant ● built on simple building blocks
  16. 16. What would that look like?
  17. 17. Things to think about ● simplicity ● standards ● clarity ● test early ● test often
  18. 18. Small is beautiful ● small parts can build beautiful robust wholes ● it’s one way of tackling complexity ● BUT the parts need testable, tested and reliable
  19. 19. Standards are your friends It’s always worth checking if there’s a standard available and in use but: ● there’s often more than one ● they’re not always easy to understand ● they’re hostage to commercial interests
  20. 20. Be clear in your intentions Again simplicity / small size helps here ● Document clearly and publicly ● Keep it up to date ● If you’re not willing to explain how it works….
  21. 21. Test early and often And test the parts together rather than as well as separately Technologies to automate testing: ● virtualisation ● online public continuous integration
  22. 22. Interoperability is the future The Internet of Things is gathering pace Information exchange happening between more and more devices, more regularly. REST, XML, Json
  23. 23. But it’s NEVER finished Two aspects of interoperability: ● Syntactically interoperable ● Semantically interoperable That’s to say speaking the same language is one thing, understanding what the other is saying is another…..
  24. 24. Why data is a special problem In the cultural heritage sector ● shared data == shared problems ● legal issues (IPR) means we don’t share as we should
  25. 25. Moving the mountain Moving the large volume takes way too long…. ● If I want to move > 5 TB for processing ● THEN move the results back…..
  26. 26. A better way….. It’s now MUCH easier to move the application to the data: ● It’s more secure ● virtual machines are approx. 300 MB ● Docker - application containers
  27. 27. So the oldest interoperability story? ● It might not be the oldest but it’s close, ● about old school integration issues. ● Something of a cautionary tale, ● it didn’t end well…..
  28. 28. The Tower of Babel
  29. 29. My Details ● Carl Wilson ● Technical Lead ● Open Planets Foundation ● Email : ● Skype : carl.f.wilson ● GitHub : carlwilson ● Twitter : @openplanets ● Google+ :