Apache is more than just building Web servers: We do science too!

The Apache Software Foundation is one of the leading open-source clearinghouses responsible for the technology that empowers the Internet, like the HTTPD Web server; the technology that powers Big Data, like Hadoop; and more recently the technology that powers consumer office productivity applications, like Open Office. This is common knowledge in the tech sector. What isn’t common knowledge to the tech sector is that the ASF has grown in recent years from being solely focused on technology communities to being also focused on communities that support science. Yes, science people. Apache does science too.

Take the Apache OODT project, originating from within the walls of NASA over the last decade, and including huge staff time from NASA, other government agencies and university partners. OODT allows the general software enthusiast to manage data the same way that NASA’s next generation of remote sensing missions do, and the same way that NASA’s Planetary Data System does. (PDS is the archive for all planetary missions over the last 40 years.)

Besides NASA, OODT includes a number of contributors: from next-generation astronomical ground-based instruments like the Square Kilometre Array (which will generate over 700TB of data per second when it sees first light in 2020); from Big Data efforts in climate science; and from biomedical informatics systems at the U.S. National Cancer Institute, helping in the management of data related to the early detection of cancer in the Early Detection Research Network project.

OODT is also used at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to collect and manage data taken from the Laura P. and Leland K. Whittier Virtual Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Climate scientists, decision and policy makers, astronomers, clinicians, professors, and students use systems powered by OODT on a day-to-day basis.

In 2012, a sibling to OODT at Apache emerged in the Airavata project. Originally funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation over a number of years via the TeraGrid project, and now via the Extreme Science and Engineering Development Environment project, Airavata provides a fully baked software framework for the development of science gateways; user portals for scientists in natural, physical, Earth and astronomical sciences; high-performance computing researchers; and visualization experts to run scientific workflows, download datasets, and share those results with other researchers.
Being at Apache has benefitted Airavata by encouraging its developers to look to integrate with other Apache efforts, specifically Apache Jackrabbit, a content repository, and also OODT for leverage for provenance and metadata management.

About Chris Mattmann