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e-infrastructure Catalogue Alignment

Current Status of Affairs in Europe

during the past decades Europe has invested significantly in the development of e-Infrastructures that support scientific research. In parallel to the thematic investments under the European Strategic Framework for Research Infrastructure (ESFRI), horizontal e-Infrastructures - with EGI, EUDAT, GÉANT, OpenAIRE and PRACE being the most prominent ones - have gained trust of the wider research community. The services offered by these e-Infrastructures aspire to empower scientific communities and the public with ubiquitous, trusted and seamless access to facilities, resources and collaboration tools, bringing to users the power of technology for communication, computation, storage, access and instrumentation.

Nonetheless, at the moment there is no unified on-line service catalogue on the European e-Infrastructures landscape. Worse than that, there are no processes to maintain such a catalogue, even if one did exist; and there are no standard descriptions of all relevant service characteristics (e.g. functionality, applicability, terms of use, etc.) so that they can be discovered in such a catalogue. Furthermore, although some e-Infrastructure organisations have IT Service Management systems in place, their implementation is at different levels of maturity among the e-Infrastructure organisation and there are obvious issues of compatibility among them in terms of processes for service portfolio management, service level management, etc.

Service Catalogue Alignment: The objectives

Facilitating service catalogue alignment will help address the above challenges and other key aspects in relation to how can the discoverability, valorisation and visibility of e-Infrastructure services be better facilitated through service catalogues, what common attributes could (and should) be defined for e-Infrastructure services, what international good practices can derive from catalogues of existing services and tools or repositories, SLA aspects in the context of e-Infrastructure services, etc. Service catalogue alignment will help prospective e-Infrastructure users be aware and choose rationally between services provided from different infrastructures. They will be able to see, compare and be certain that the services published are done so in a structured, harmonised and regularly updated manner. Finally, it would help alleviate issues and address challenges related to a wider uptake of e-Infrastructures by a larger set of stakeholders, primarily due to issues of service accessibility, interoperability and fragmentation, comprehensibility and clarity.

 

In brief, Service Catalogue is about…

  • Creating a Common vocabulary for services, providers, management, catalogues, portfolios, roles, components, SLA, etc.
  • Structured information about Service Descriptions:
  • Information that may be presented to Users/Customers
  • Information available to Management
  • Information needed to support e-Infrastructure operations staff
  • Provide Harmonised information about Service Representations through listings, portals, etc.
  • Create a Common approach to Service Performance Monitoring in terms of usage, number of users, capacity available, etc.

 

Service Catalogue Alignment: the challenges 

There are a number of challenges that need to be overcome to achieve Service Catalogue Alignment. These are:

  • Different standards and frameworks available for Service Management
  • Diverse vocabulary about service management used in the communities
  • Different processes to manage service portfolios employed at different locations
  • e-Infrastructures at different levels of adoption of Service Management Practices
  • No standardised way to define and describe a service
  • e-Infrastructures with different maturity in description of services or offering a service listing or catalogue
  • Various potentially overlapping service offerings from different e-Infrastructure providers
  • Various services offered at different levels: centrally by an e-Infrastructure, at national or regional level (e.g. by an NREN) or even at local level (university)

 

 How will the Service Catalogue Alignment address these challenges?

The activities under the Service Catalogue Alignment will address these challenges by:

  • evaluating suitability for IT service management standard adoption by e-infrastructures
  • drafting a classification of available service catalogues and validation of state-of-play
  • collecting input and consulting with Global e-infrastructures initiatives on service catalogue alignment
  • completing service classification and binding of KPIs to services
  • achieving consensus on service classification/taxonomy
  • selecting a set of KPIs for adoption by e-Infrastructures
  • preparing guidelines for schema representation

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