InSilicoLab is a framework for building application portals, also called Science Gateways. The goal of the framework development is to create gateways that, on one hand, expose the power of large distributed computing infrastructures to scientists, and, on the other, allow the users to conduct in silico experiments in a way that resembles their usual work. The scientists using such a gateway can treat it as a workspace that organizes their data and allows for complex computations in a way specific to their domain of science.
An InSilicoLab portal is designed as a workspace that gathers all that a researcher needs for their in silico experiments. This means:
- Capability of organising data that are subject or products of an experiment. This should include:
- Facilitating the process of preparing input data for computations,
- Enabling describing and categorising the input and output data with meaningful metadata,
- Searching and browsing through all the data based on the metadata.
- Seamless execution of large-scale, long-lasting data- and computation-intensive experiments
InSilicoLab is not meant to be a "Yet another engine for...", therefore, we have always put maximum stress on the utility of the tool. This means user-friendliness but, even more importantly, serving real scientific problems. With this approach, one conclusion was obvious:
We cannot support solving ANY scientific problem - we assume it cannot be done in a universal and comprehensive way. We have to focus on helping solve SPECIFIC problems
In this way, we were bound to work with the researchers for which the portal is build - to observe their ways of working and spot the common problems they face. But the solution that was built is as close to the actual research as possible, maintaing at the same time the ability to talk to computer resources gathered in e-Infrastructures (see more in chapter Fabric). Individual approach to each computational problem is the key to utility. On the other hand, wanting not to restrict InSilicoLab to one scince problem or domain, we had to come up with a solution that could be used to solve many such problems. This leads to creating a framework that could be used to produce specific problem-solving environments. Such problem-solving environment would be devoted to a science domain, or even a branch of a domain, but the framework itself would remain generic.
Every gateway based on the InSilicoLab framework is tailored to a specific domain of science, or even to a class of problems in that domain. The core of the framework provides mechanisms for managing the users’ data – categorizing it, describing with metadata and tracking its origin – as well as for running computations on distributed computing infrastructures. Every InSilicoLab gateway instance is built based on the core components, but is provided with data models, analysis scenarios and interface specific to the actual domain it is created for.
For more information about the current portal deployments in different domains, see our Products page.