Metadata Driven Data Management

Jason Coposky


Executive Director, iRODS Consortium


Metadata Driven Data Management

CASC Spring 2018 Meeting

Alexandria, Virginia

United States

Jason Coposky


Executive Director, iRODS Consortium

What is iRODS

iRODS is

  • Distributed
  • Open source
  • Metadata Driven
  • Data Centric


A flexible framework for the abstraction of infrastructure

iRODS as the Integration Layer

Data Virtualization

Combine various distributed storage technologies into a Unified Namespace

  • Existing file systems
  • Cloud storage
  • On premises object storage
  • Archival storage systems

iRODS provides a logical view into the complex physical representation of your data, distributed geographically, and at scale.

Data Virtualization

Logical Path

Physical Paths(s)

Data Virtualization

$ ils -L /tempZone/home/rods/thefile.txt
  rods              0 demoResc        29606 2016-10-05.09:05 & thefile.txt
        generic    /var/lib/irods/iRODS/Vault/home/rods/thefile.txt
  rods              1 repl;u2        29606 2016-10-05.09:06 & thefile.txt
        generic    /tmp/u2vault/home/rods/thefile.txt
  rods              2 repl;u1        29606 2016-10-05.09:06 & thefile.txt
        generic    /tmp/u1vault/home/rods/thefile.txt


Logical Path /tempZone/home/rods/thefile.txt
Physical Paths /var/lib/irods/iRODS/Vault/home/rods/thefile.txt

Data Discovery

Attach metadata to any first class entity within the iRODS Zone

  • Data Objects
  • Collections
  • Users
  • Storage Resources
  • The Namespace

iRODS provides automated and user-provided metadata which makes your data and infrastructure more discoverable, operational and valuable.

Metadata Everywhere

Workflow Automation

Integrated scripting language which is triggered by any operation within the framework

  • Authentication
  • Storage Access
  • Database Interaction
  • Network Activity
  • Extensible RPC API 

The iRODS rule engine provides the ability to capture real world policy as computer actionable rules which may allow, deny, or add context to operations within the system.

Dynamic Policy Enforcement

  • restrict access
  • log for audit and reporting
  • provide additional context
  • send a notification

The iRODS rule may:

Dynamic Policy Enforcement

A single API call expands to many plugin operations all of which may invoke policy enforcement

  • Authentication
  • Database
  • Storage
  • Network
  • Rule Engine
  • Microservice

Plugin Interfaces:

Secure Collaboration

iRODS allows for collaboration across administrative boundaries after deployment

  • No need for common infrastructure
  • No need for shared funding
  • Affords temporary collaborations

iRODS provides the ability to federate namespaces across organizations without pre-coordinated funding or effort.

iRODS Service Interface

Federation - Shared Data and Services

Institutional repositories

As data matures and reaches a broader community, data management policy must also evolve to meet these additional requirements.

Use Cases


On Premises to Any Cloud Infrastructure

Data to Compute Use Case

Compute to Data Use Case

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

Sanger - Replication

  • Data preferentially placed on resource servers in the green data center (fallback to red)
  • Data replicated to the other room.
  • Checksums applied
  • Green and red centers both used for read access.

Sanger - Metadata

attribute: library

attribute: total_reads

attribute: type

attribute: lane

attribute: is_paired_read

attribute: study_accession_number

attribute: library_id

attribute: sample_accession_number

attribute: sample_public_name

attribute: manual_qc

attribute: tag

attribute: sample_common_name

attribute: md5

attribute: tag_index

attribute: study_title

attribute: study_id

attribute: reference

attribute: sample

attribute: target

attribute: sample_id

attribute: id_run

attribute: study

attribute: alignment

  • Example metadata attributes
  • Users query and access data from local compute clusters
  • Users access iRODS locally via the command line interface

Sanger - Federation

University College London

  • UK sponsored research requirements: last date of access request plus 10 years
  • iRODS tiers data across storage technologies
  • Enables federated access from other centers


iRODS Software

The Roadmap

  • iRODS 4.3
  • Packaged iRODS Capabilities
  • Multipart Transfer
    • Cacheless Object Storage
  • Query Arrow
  • Metadata Templates
  • Filesystem Integration

The Roadmap - iRODS 4.3

  • Hardening Release
  • Logging
  • iRODS Monitor
  • Delegate Checksum to Storage Plugins

Packaged iRODS Capabilities

Multipart Transfer

Provide reliable transfer with restart - object parts tracked in the catalog

Later versions will provide fast, first class access to object storage

iRODS 4.2 and Beyond - The Scatter

Next Generation Query Interface

iRODS 4.3 and Beyond - The Gather

Shared Data - Shared Infrastructure

Metadata Templates

Business Model

iRODS Consortium

The iRODS Consortium

Our Mission

  • Write Good Software
  • Grow the Community
  • Show Value to our Membership

Why Open Source

  • Transparency
  • Quality
  • Persistence
  • Vendor Neutrality
  • Customization
  • Community
  • Try before you buy

Our Membership

Our Business Model

Consortium Membership

  • Participate in roadmap development
  • Participate in consortium governance
  • Direct support from the team
  • Tier 3 support agreements
  • Discount for support agreements

Our Business Model

Service & Support Contracts

  • Billed hourly
  • Implement Proofs of Concept
  • Custom rule and plugin development
  • Expand to new use cases
  • Discounted rate for consortium members

Membership Committees

Technology Working Group

  • Monthly web conferences
  • Build iRODS Roadmap
  • Propose new technology direction
  • Propose inclusion of new software
  • Propose new working groups

Membership Committees

Planning Committee

  • Monthly web conferences
  • Discuss consortium policy and business practices
  • Propose conferences and workshops
  • Vote on inclusion of new software
  • Vote on roadmap

Membership Committees

Executive Board

  • Meets twice yearly
  • Votes on consortium budget and bylaw changes
  • Determines the thematic priorities of the consortium


Additional working groups are formed as required

Our Consortium Participation