Notes of Review

Third APARSEN Review Meeting, 13 February 2014, DNB Frankfurt
Notes written by Sabine Schrimpf and Simon Lambert

In attendance:

  • Manuela Speiser (MS), Perla Innocenti (PI), Cal Lee (CL), Daniel Teruggi (DT)
  • David Giaretta (DG), Simon Lambert (SL), Matthias Hemmje (MHe), Maurizio Lunghi (ML), Sabine Schrimpf (SS), Orit Edelstein (OE), Manuela Holzmayer (MHo)
  • Coordinators’ overview (SL presentation)

Coordinator’s Report:

  • MS: Do you plan to shift resources, a) between WPs (e.g., from WP52 to WP51) and b) between partners? SL: Basically yes, when definite figure from Form Cs are available. Needs approval by the General Assembly.
  • MS: Why were two stream leaders replaced? Please give an explanation in the periodic report. SL: Veronika Prändl-Zika changed her job, other stream lead due to resource restrictions.

VCoE & Common Vision (DG and MHe presentations)

  • CL: What are examples of fragmentation and how will the VCoE fulfil its brokering role? (CL thought of fragmentation as disparity of practices; MHe explains it as “people don’t know who the experts are”. APARSEN will broker expertise, as partners provide a wide variety of expertise, which is a unique selling point)
  • CL: What are examples for the prototypes that will be provided in the soft launch of the VCoE? MHe: SCIDIP-ES prototype deployed in ESA environment, where it now goes into operation. Through access to EGI environment, more prototypes can be deployed as proofs of concepts. DG: From the discussions that we have had with organisations such as ESA, we know that they are aware they have a problem with data preservation. Through prototypes, we will show that we are able to help them, enable them to test solutions before they move them into their own production environments. The standards for audit of repositories are bringing approaches together.

  • PI: Many of the (useful & interesting) things that MHe presented are not reflected in the WP11 deliverables. Why? MHe: The deliverables were due in December. Some of the meetings that MHe was reporting about (EGI, EUDAT) took place only around this time and the cooperations were too premature to be reported about in official deliverables.
  • MS: Thinks it is a pity that the deliverables don’t reflect the results that MHe talked about. Would have been happy to extend the deliverable deadline. Is reassured after the presentation, much more than when reading the WP11 deliverables.
  • DG: Noted that we had been told in previous reviews not to mention SCIDIP-ES.
  • CL: The brokering role is very compelling and should be made more explicit.
  • PI: How does nestor serve as a role model? Can its national structures really be scaled up to the international level? MHe: It is just one role model and of course there are others beside it. It is not a model of growth but of sustainability. From nestor, we have experiences in dealing with regions and thinking/working cross sectors.
  • PI: (Referring to the Common Vision figure): Where is the community? MHe: Represented by the Business Models. CL: How have you come to the graphic representation of the Common vision? Finds it very confusing. DG explained that the diagram had to be detailed enough to allow the project to see where all the pieces go but could be presented in a simpler way where appropriate. MS finds the explanatory text in one of the brochures useful and regrets that it is missing in the deliverable. CL: You might want to move towards multiple graphical representations (MS and DT agree). DG: Agreed, just as the OAIS reference model has various views.

  • DT: Thanks for the presentation. Admits that he left the review last year quite worried. After the presentations, he is less worried, but still worried. Sees 3 issues: 1) Common Vision, 2) VCoE, 3) Marketing & presentation. DT has tried to get his head around the Common Vision and what he would expect from it. Was wondering if the CV is like a piece of architecture and suddenly becomes visible at the end of the project when all the bits and pieces come together. Isn’t sure though. Asks what the project teams’ vision of the Common Vision is. What will it look like in the end? Looking at D11.3, there is just half a page of what could be a vision (i.e. the vision statements). So the centre is almost missing!
  • D11.4 has a good sentence “We in APARSEN believe …”—this should be part of the vision.
    • Each task in the project should have a strong position (DRM etc.). What results can be taken to the VCoE?
    • Need clearer statement of excellence, so need communication. How strongly does the project communicate, especially to small/medium stakeholders? We need a really good communication strategy. It might require professionals to do it.
  • DT believes that there are still many questions about the VCoE, and he thinks it highly optimistic. That’s why the launch should be brought forward.
  • His key question: D11.4 says that APARSEN members are potential experts. How will it happen when the project ceases? What kind of relationships will exist?
  • DG: The vision statements are not the Common Vision. Their purpose is to grab attention before going into detail. The Common Vision needs to be more than “10 Commandments” because that would be too high-level and would lack the details needed. Will be the sum of all the results of the projects and services of the VCoE. Regarding the Business Plan of the VCoE: Relies on the expertise of its members where members’ staff can be available for a couple of days for contributing specific expert knowledge to the VCoE customers. This has to be scheduled carefully to find which member has the appropriate expertise available for the time needed. That’s the kind of brokerage that the VCoE needs to ensure. Yes, the initial plan might be too optimistic as we know from other centres’ experience. It needs testing this year.

  • DT: Role of vendors within the consortium like Tessella? They are not neutral? MHe: And there is nothing wrong with it. It is normal that the positions of the VCoE are defined by its members. These days, Oracle thinks of becoming a member of APA/the future VCoE because they consider it a marketing channel. DG: However, the VCoE’s advice and guidance would rely on evidence (which solutions are good for which problems) and evidence applies to the vendors, too. Evidence keeps the VCoE an honest broker.
  • DT: The conditions and requirements under which new partners can join the APA (= the future VCoE?; relations still are not completely clear to him) should be made explicit and transparent! DG: The articles of association specify criteria for membership and say that applications for membership are reviewed by the Executive Board. MHe refers to the by-laws of the APA.
  • Two roles for VCoE office: mediator demand/supply and gets brokerage fee; or VCoE office is directlyinvolved.
  • DG on industry: have talked to industry for a long time but they did not act on putting features into products because the market is not large enough. So we need collaboration of pioneers with a conservative business model.
  • DT: What about industry as experts? They might promote their own products— not neutral. MH: Does it have to be neutral?
  • DT: Need trust in VCoE. Difficult process.
  • CL: Who fills the brokering role? VCoE staff or is it shared by staff of the members? DG: There will be one main contact point, namely the APA office.
  • CL: What are the services that you broker? How will it work? DT: How do you distribute information, how do you make decisions, for example about exactly which VCoE member will provide a requested service?  All of this needs to be sorted out and documented.
  • DG: that is why we are not setting up an organisation from scratch but are extending the APA – we have the Articles of Association and existing members.
  • RR refers to the expertise in setting up enterprises within the consortium (e.g. Inmark was founded as an association of service providers and is now operating in 9 countries).
  • CL: Will the VCoE recommend external parties? Just Europe or could be outside?
  • DG: Certainly we should think globally.
  • RR: Will be working on institutional requirements to understand how offerings could fit into their purchasing policies.
  • MH: Example from SHAMAN of collaboration using iRODS. Many target communities work with international components.
  • DT: If I become member of the VCoE then I offer expertise, what happens then?
  • DG: The answer is evidence. The Exec Board makes decisions about membership
  • PI: Especially in the stream 1 deliverables, but also in others, there are a lot of self-referential statements that need to be explained better and that need to be evidenced. * DG: But sometimes the evidence doesn’t exist, and we write down what we believe (with the authority of a wide range of partners that are experts in this area).
  • CL: Advice: Clean up the website! There are certainly a lot of potentially valuable resources there, but they are buried and lost in the long deliverables documents. They deserve better presentation.
  • DT: The guidelines in the deliverables are gold (he mentioned five pages within D31.1 on DRM)! We would like you to focus on these and to present them better!
  • MHo: We have been putting work into improving the website.

  • MS: How long will it take to establish the VCoE? Will the APARSEN partners automatically become VCoE members? DG explains that all but 2 APA members are APARSEN partners and that he expects these 2 to become members of the VCoE.
  • MS: Wants to go back to the Common Vision diagram and wants to understand what it is about. The diagram needs a clear name. DG: Yes the names needs some thought since it is a representation of the CV rather than the CV itself. MHe: It is about valorisation.
  • MS: What are incentives to become members of the VCoE? Access to expertise, and to be on list of top players. This is not explicit in the documents. RR: Right, that’s something that we need to work out and to communicate properly. DG: We are not starting from scratch, but we are building on the solid basis of the APA.

  • MS: In D11.4, you have a list of target communities. But from what we heard today, the VCoE seems to focus mainly on the scientific community. Has there been a strategic shift? (CL said he had the same question.) RR explains that we have different target segments and we will start focusing on the segment that we think is the easiest target. MS thinks that a focus on the scientific community would work and that it would be a valuable target.
  • DT: You should take care not giving a partial vision of the VCoE but one that is tailored to your target communities.

  • DT: D14.1: Will you do any testing at all? DG: We don’t have the resources to test everything and testing is harder than we thought in the beginning. MHe: There isn’t a market for testing, commercial providers aren’t interested because there is so little competition. PI & CL: But what about research institutions, data centres? MHe: They are more interested to have the gaps in their infrastructures evaluated than in formal testing.
Stream 2 (ML presentation)
  • PI: D21.1 is very well written, but there is still some incompleteness of the recorded services. SL: OK, will address that within a month.
  • DT: D21.1 mentions CASPAR results. Will the VCoE take these up? DG: Yes, they are already taken up by SCIDIP-ES and will become part of the VCoE services. DT would like to see a graphical representation of the APA project portfolio and also a strategic description.
  • PI: D23.1: Role of the people that have answered the questionnaire? OE: The information is available.
  • DT thinks D25.2 is an excellent deliverable, giving a good overview of the state of the art. CL: What is the status of the prototype; is it being maintained? OE cannot say right now, refers to Yannis.
  • DT likes D27.1; it gives a wide perspective on scalability. He regrets, however, that only 2 systems were compared.
  • DT: It would be good to have a view of the network of contributing projects (SCIDIP-ES etc.).
  • CL: Not always clear what APARSEN has itself produced.
  • DT: D22.3 could have been much shorter. It is well written, but 10-25 pages would have been sufficient, and a lot of the lists and descriptions could have gone into the Annex. Main question: Is there political support, first of all by the EC, for the creation of a consistent PI infrastructure? RR refers to Horizon 2020.
There is also the fact that the publishing industry has invested already in this area.

Stream 3 (SS presentation)

  • PI: Stream 3 has done a great job overall. Happy that WP32 has picked up the reviewers’ comments from the last review, finds them appropriately reflected in D32.2. Thinks, however, that the section about benefits is rather high level; had hoped that some more concrete results/recommendation had come out of there. SS: The sources that WP32 could draw upon were rather thin. MS: Perhaps you can try to align the benefits considerations with some of the exploitation points that MHe made in his presentation. Admits that she believes this will be difficult, though.
  • DT: Disappointed from the WP32 results (not our fault) that there is little use of cost models and that they are so hard to use. SS: Probably all this cost modelling is just one step ahead on the road. The ultimate goal is to have DP so integrated in the organisations and business processes that no DP cost model is needed/wanted, but DP is costed and accounted as part of the overall business activities.
  • DT: D36.2: How can the recommendations be deployed? They seem rather theoretical. What if can’t integrate DP into your organisational workflow (as recommended)?
  • RR: LIBER community starts implementing the recommendations and in a couple of months, we will know how successful that was.
  • DT: D31.1 is very nice with valuable recommendations. Just one suggestion: You should also consider fingerprinting as a transparent mechanism for monitoring use.
  • PI: D35.1: There is nothing in the deliverable about the evolution over time of data policies and governance structures. SS: Yes, but there is a lot about it in D36.2. When the VCoE deploys the results (recommendations) it can deploy them together.

Stream 4 (RR presentation)

  • DT: D42.2: Is there really much more training activity in Germany or is it because you work there? MHe: This work started in DPE so we think it is fairly complete. We need readers’ feedback in order to improve completeness.
  • MS: Why do you study formal training programs at all when the VCoE engages only in the area of continuous training (e.g. with webinars)? MHe: We need it as a starting point for discussion and further development. APARSEN has identified a mismatch between offerings and demand.
  • PI: Success metrics in stream 4, which were asked for last year? Discussion with CL about the size of the DP community.
  • MS: Were webinar numbers as expected? Yes, in fact more.
Have made big push to improve website.

  • MS: What are we doing to elicit feedback online (via website)?
  • MHo: Can comment on website. MS: Are people doing that? More with social media.
  • CL: Des APARSEN incorporate feedback into its documents?

  • MS: What is the story that you tell in order to promote the VCoE? MHo: The communications plan that outlines the communication strategy will be ready next week.
  • DG: Training pills should help to make people aware of issues.

Report back of the reviewers

  • MS: Overall result: Good. The last time, the “good” was more debatable and was to encourage you, this time it is a real good. The project has improved a lot, and what the reviewers saw today, re-assured them that the project is on the right track. Almost all deliverables are accepted. D14.1 and D43.2 are rejected, and on some deliverables, a couple of adjustments should be made. Deliverables 14.1 has not essentially improved since the last time and the reviewers feel that they cannot accept it. There are now two options: a) improve again, or b) remove from the project and lose the resources that were invested into it.

  • DT on deliverables:
  • D11.3 is accepted, no conditions, just a comment: Should concentrate more on the form and definition of the common vision (not how we will do it), and a stronger link should be established with the communication strategy.
  • D11.4 is a good improvement, the business model should be refined and should stress revenue from consultancy and rules for internal functioning and the relation of the VCoE with its environment, other projects and actions (get the big picture).
  • D13.2 is ok, nothing to say.
  • D21.1 is accepted under the conditions that it should be completed with missing information.
  • D22.3 is very good, though less words would do well.
  • D23.2 is accepted with one condition, that there is a better synthesis and conclusions and recommendations.
  • D25.2 is accepted, very good.
  • D27.1 accepted without comments.
  • D31.1 accepted without comments
  • D32.2 accepted without comments
  • D35.1 accepted without comments
  • D36.2 just a comment (no revision needed): you could focus more on the scientific community (but not a condition).
  • D41.2 is accepted
  • D42.1 accepted, perhaps make explicit the process for making it know and getting extra information, and concentrate in professional training in the last year. Also focus on how to use it.
  • D43.2 rejected – populate it and do a re-launch since it is empty now.
  • D44.3: lacks a rationale for the interactive map, what is it there for, who is it addressed to, populate it more and increase the usability (e.g. move mouse and get pop-up). Lots there but some obvious ones missing.
  • D44.4 accepted without comments.

  • CL with recommendations:
    • Stream 1 and Stream 4 deliverables do not always adequately reflect the work done.
    • With regard to the Common Vision, just as a suggestion, in a sense as a mental exercise, try to almost start from scratch again to make sure things in the deliverables which should be most foregrounded have not been missed in the current form. Link CV to communication strategy. Stress the lessons learned in the deliverables. Show what makes the VCoE different from other undertakings in this area (e.g. preservation as value, VCoE as expertise broker), set success criteria in community engagement and the communication and outreach activities.
    • Consider designating a person, with a good profile, for community engagement as a first point of contact that does most of the promotions, marketing and sales.
    • Make clear the focus on the scientific community since that seems to be what the project wants to do.
    • Stress recommendation 5 and 6 from last year (process for eliciting and accommodating input from the community, adding quality criteria for existing solutions in deliverables) (MS: the first of these is crucial for sustainability). Clearly resources need to be re-distributed between workpackages.
    • General recommendation: Be more concise when you write the next deliverables.

-- DavidGiaretta - 2014-02-20

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