Monday, 17 May 2010

Files, files, everywhere.....

Today started with a meeting about files - where to advise users to store them mainly. Prompted by an upgrade we're doing soon to our collaboration service, uSpace, which allows uploaded documents (and spreadsheets, pdfs, powerpoint) to be previewed and annotated in the browser. Currently we advise users not to upload documents etc, but to create them as uSpace documents using the wiki-like editor. They're easier to view that way, and collaboration, comment etc is much easier. We also want to keep the environment as a collaboration space, not a document repository. But - it's easy to upload documents, so people do. And the upgrade will make it easier to view them. So, the discussion this morning was on policy - and what to advise users. There are many different places to store files - personal hard disc, uSpace, shared filestore, individual filestore, portal groups, VLE - as well as the many places in the cloud including Google apps and MobileMe. Developments we're making to our portal and document management will solve some of the issues, but we need to map out how everything fits together. The diagram above is the first attempt. That's clear then.


Anonymous said...

Users will always do which is easiest - even if it isn't the behaviour we would like. Technical reasons for them not uploading documents won't wash.

Mike Griffiths said...

There are so many methods for file sharing catering for a diversity of requirements. There is unlikely to be an all encompassing service/ standard (CURL is a great standard for geeks and developers).

Sharing data/models for science, engineering and medical applications requires the transfer of sometimes 100'sGB's over a secure network. Introducing another set of challenges.

A further requirement, requested frequently is the need for sharing not only locally but with external collaborators. This is normally accompanied by an appropriate mechanism for managing access and privileges.

Although ftp and sftp remain as useful standards for file sharing further methods that have been suggested include file systems such as iRods, Hadoop, SRB. Evaluation of these systems is well documented.

We are experiencing greater demand as researchers generate and gather increasing quanties of data and collaborate more widely.