The first VIDaaS JISC Review

The VIDaaS Project’s first review by our funders, the JISC, provided us with a good opportunity to take stock of what we’ve achieved so far and where we need to go from here. As we’ve almost completed our full Project Plan, we could refer our reviewers to sections of that to show we’d considered the issues we face and the potential obstacles. We’ll be making the Project Plan available shortly on the VIDaaS website.

Given that our work on the Database as a Service (DaaS) began during the Sudamih Project, our reviewers were particularly keen to know what the development situation was and whether there were any issues outstanding. We were happy to report that the only significant bit of core functionality left to implement was the advanced query builder, which will enable users to perform more ingenious searches of their data than merely filtering it. The other aspect that VIDaaS will now be turning its attention to is the user testing. This will be the driver behind much of the development work as we try to polish the system into something which doesn’t simply do what it says it does, but does it in such a way that researchers actually want to use it. Whilst we will be looking to extend the functionality of the DaaS over the coming year to better cater for researchers beyond the humanities, it is this usability issue which is crucial.

The VIDaaS team agreed after the review that the biggest risk to the project is if we fail to engage with the eventual users of the DaaS system and implement the improvements they suggest. If you are a researcher working (or about to work) on a data-supported research project and would like to get involved with the testing process, we’d be more than happy to hear from you! Drop us a line at
vidaas@oucs.ox.ac.uk
.

JISC were also keen to confirm that we had all staff members in place and see if they could offer support regarding any external dependencies. All staff members are now in place except for our Shared Services Developer, who will have the responsibility for ‘the design, development and implementation of the components that enable the integration of existing identity, access management, accounting and billing applications with cloud applications served from a virtualised infrastructure’ (the job advertisement will be posted shortly). Our ‘external dependencies’, meanwhile, are chiefly in the hands of our two major collaborators: Eduserv, who have the job of building a Higher Education cloud; and the Digital Curation Centre (DCC), with whom we shall be working to ensure that DaaS users can continue to be supported beyond the lifetime of the project itself.

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