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Hosting a Hackathon

By Shelley Littin, iPlant Collaborative

It’s a marathon for hackers. A hacking marathon. A hackathon. (“Hack” used in the most benign, friendly, altruistic sense of the word, of course.)

This week the iPlant Collaborative at the University of Arizona’s BIO5 Institute hosted a three-day hackathon session for the iRODS Consortium.

Like iPlant, the iRODS (integrated Rule-Oriented Data System) Consortium is a national cyberinfrastructure (CI) project. iRODS provides open source data management software to research organizations and government agencies across the globe. The iRODS Consortium aims to ensure the sustainability of the iRODS technology.

The iPlant Data Store was developed using iRODS technology and capability for managing large datasets.

Monday through Wednesday, computer programmers and software developers from iPlant and iRODS joined forces to delve into the nitty-gritty of computing and software issues.

“The goals of this project were to exchange information about recent and upcoming features with iPlant’s and iRODS’ CI, and to identify, architect, and develop prototype solutions for migrating iPlant CI to iRODS software while leveraging iRODS' latest capabilities,” said Edwin Skimore, Director of Infrastructure for iPlant at the UA.

Perfecting software and creating new and better products is integral to iPlant’s mission of bringing cyberinfrastructure to life science researchers.

“Our engineers were able to get hands-on guidance from the iRODS team,” said Sriram Srinivasan, who led the hackathon. Likewise, he said, iPlant engineers were able to assist the iRODS team with deploying iPlant’s Discovery Environment on their servers.

The on-site, in-person hackathon led to the generation of ideas for future enhancements for iPlant’s CI and iRODS, Skidmore noted, as well as other potential future collaboration opportunities between both organizations.