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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Teaching With Data Launched

ICPSR launched a new portal this week - TeachingWithData. This is part of ICPSR's grant to build a National Science Digital Library (NSDL) Pathway dedicated to social science data and teaching. I won't say too much more about the content in this post, but will instead focus on our technology selection.

The two main technical requirements were: (1) Fedora-based, and (2) fast deployment. We think we've achieved both with the site.

We implemented the site on an Amazon Web Services (AWS) Elastic Computing Cloud (EC2) instance; this allowed us to stand-up a base platform very quickly. We now have nearly a dozen instances running in AWS. Some are delivering production services, like our search technology and this Pathway, and others are used for science experiments and front-ends for storage. We've found that it's more convenient to synchronize and organize content in AWS by sticking a Linux instance in front so that we can use tools like rsync. Using Simple Storage Service (S3) directly is less convenient.

After looking at a variety of stacks that sit on top of Fedora, we selected Muradora for three main reasons:
  1. Open source software
  2. Active development community
  3. Best technology fit with other technology platforms in use at ICPSR
Selecting Muradora allowed us to stand up the portal relatively quickly, and other time we'll evaulate how well the system is meeting our needs.

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