Interview with a SCAPEr – Pavel Smrz
Who are you?
My name is Pavel Smrz. I work as an associate professor at the Faculty of Information Technology, Brno University of Technology (BUT) in the Czech Republic. Our team joined the SCAPE project in September 2013.
Tell us a bit about your role in SCAPE and what SCAPE work you are involved in right now?
I lead a work package dealing with the Data Centre Testbed. Together with other new project partners, we aim at extending the current SCAPE development towards preserving large-scale computing experiments that take place in modern data centres. Our team particularly focuses on preservation scenarios and workflows related to large-scale video processing and interlinking.
Why is your organisation involved in SCAPE?
BUT has a long tradition and a proved research track in the fields of large-scale parallel and distributed computing, knowledge technologies and big data analysis. We have participated in many European projects, other international and national research and development activities and industrial projects relevant to this domain. That is why we have been invited to join the proposal to extend the SCAPE project as a part of the special EC Horizontal Action – Supplements to Strengthen Cooperation in ICT R&D in an Enlarged European Union. The proposal was accepted and the SCAPE project was successfully extended in 2013.
What are the biggest challenges in SCAPE as you see it?
SCAPE is a complex project so that there are many technological challenges. Being new to the project, I was agreeably surprised by the high level of technical expertise of professionals from libraries and other institutions dealing with preservation. To mention just an example from our domain, concepts of advanced distributed computing are well understood and commonly employed by the experts. I believe the technical excellence will help us to meet all the challenges in the remaining project time.
In addition to the technical area, I would see a key challenge of the project in integration of partners and individuals with very different backgrounds and perspectives. SCAPE is really an inter-disciplinary project so that people from various fields need to make a special effort to find common ground. I am glad that this works in the project and I really enjoy being part of the community.
What do you think will be the most valuable outcome of SCAPE?
SCAPE will deliver a new platform and a set of tools for various preservation contexts. I would stress diversity of tools as a particular outcome. My experience shows that “one-size-fits-all” solutions are often too scary to be used. Although funding agencies believe opposite, research and development project seldom deliver solutions that could be used as a whole. It is often the case that what seemed to be a minor contribution becomes the next big thing for business. I believe that at least some components developed within the project have this great potential.
Having interest in large-scale parallel and distributed computing, I cannot forget scalability as a key attribute of the SCAPE development. Today’s public and private cloud and cluster infrastructures enable realizing large-scale preservation scenarios. What would be a year preservation project few years ago, can be solved in a day on these platforms. However, many tools are not ready to take benefit from existing computing infrastructures – scalability does not come ‘automagically’.
In my opinion, the most valuable outcome of the SCAPE project consists in providing a diverse set of preservation tools and showing that they scale-up in real situations.
Brno University of Technology
Faculty of Information Technology
Bozetechova 2, 61266 Brno
By Jette Junge, posted in Jette Junge's Blog
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