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Cyberinfrastructure Software Sustainability and Reusability: Preliminary report from an NSF-funded workshop held 27 & 28 March 2009

Thursday, March 4, 2010


The National Science Foundation’s strategy for 21st century innovation depends on rapid creation ofsoftware to enable scientific discovery. The NSF workshop report “Planning for CyberinfrastructureSupport” stated, “CI [Cyberinfrastructure] changes the rules and foundations of the research endeavor across much of NSF. CI software is a new class of artifact that should be the target of explicit design, construction, study, and evolution.” Indiana University proposes a workshop to pursue this type of study. Cyberinfrastructure Software Sustainability and Reusability will examine the question “given millions of dollars invested in initiating software development, how is software that will be important to the US research and engineering communities identified, maintained, and supported over years to decades?”

Some software critical for various areas of cyber-enabled research exists in ways that seem sustainable almost indefinitely. The Linux operating system is maintained and sustained through open source community effort and sales of support from companies such as RedHat and Novell, Inc. Community source software such as Sakai exists through a complex but successful combination of pooled effort, membership dues, and a community source license. Much other critical software supports much smaller communities, however, and exists in a variety of less reliably sustainable states.

The goals of the Cyberinfrastructure Software Sustainability and Reusability workshop are as follows:

  • Examine software evaluation and adoption models by individual research labs and virtual organizations
  • Examine models for long-term software sustainability – the ability to obtain the software one wants with assurance, obtain the information required to use the software, obtain the software and hardware environments required to run the software, and use the software.
  • Discuss mechanisms for supporting sustainability, including direct government support, university-funded consortia, open source (with or without commercial support), community source, and commercialization

Editors: Craig A. Stewart, Guy T. Almes, Bradley C. Wheeler

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