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Daphne Siefert-Herron
Manager of Strategic Initiatives, Pervasive Technology Institute at Indiana University

Last modified: Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"Cyberinfrastructure Software Sustainability and Reusability" workshop report now available

December 1, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Pervasive Technology Institute at Indiana University today (December 1) announced the availability of "Cyberinfrastructure Software Sustainability and Reusability," a report from a National Science Foundation (NSF)-sponsored workshop.

The NSF strategy for 21st-century innovation depends on the creation and maintenance of scientific and engineering software. In March 2009, Indiana University hosted an NSF-funded workshop to examine related software issues. This report reflects the activities, discussion, and consensus of the two-day workshop and subsequent research and writing on specific points raised, including discussion of how software important to the US research and engineering communities will be identified, maintained, and supported for years or decades.

A group of 65 international experts examined successful sustainability models such as the Open Science Grid and Sakai. Open source and community source software trends presented as an alternative to commercialization, leading to the conclusion that all currently successful sustainability models release at least some software as open source.

In all, workshop participants decided on 12 findings and 14 recommendations regarding future funding of software development. Many recommendations speak to the US informatics, computer science, and general scientific communities. Some directly address the National Science Foundation.

The report makes clear the important role of cyberinfrastructure software in US global competitiveness in science and engineering. But a critical problem remains largely unsolved: How does the US research community take software developed as part of a research project—initially intended to demonstrate new capabilities in handling information or doing simulations—and convert it into a reliable tool that the US and global scientific communities can depend on for years to come? In addition, how can we, years in the future, replicate experiments done today, or last year, or five years ago with such software?

Federal funding cannot be the only option, and participants presented several case studies. The Sakai Foundation, which manages the community source Sakai software for learning and collaboration, emerges as one of the successful, sustained software efforts discussed in the report. (IU was among the leaders in the creation of the Sakai Foundation.)

This report has been out in electronic preprint form for some time, and there is already evidence of the value of the workshop recommendations. For example, the new NSF program for Software Infrastructure for Sustained Innovation (SI2) addresses one key recommendation. Workshop organizer and IU Vice President for IT and CIO Brad Wheeler stated, "There is a complex fabric of software initiatives upon which the US research enterprise is critically dependent, and sustaining that foundation will require a variety of approaches. This report lays out several approaches that have already been shown to be successful, as well as setting out new ideas and challenges that we must as a community face together."

Wheeler went on to say, "It is fitting that a report on software sustainability be launched as a document available electronically for free, and printed on demand when a physical copy is needed."

Because the printed report is available through the CreateSpace service, hardcopies are produced as needed so that there is no risk of overprinting and no need for recycling. At the same time, the documents remain available in the future through CreateSpace and the IUScholarWorks digital archive.

A printed copy of the report costs $32.79 and is available through CreateSpace at

It is also available electronically at no charge through the IUScholarWorks Repository at

About IUScholarWorks

IUScholarWorks is a suite of services from the IU Libraries and the Digital Library Program that enables IU scholars and academic units to make their scholarly materials accessible to the world, at a stable URL, and with the assurance they will be maintained over the long term. The Repository's mission is to expand the dissemination and ensure long-term preservation of IU scholarship. All material deposited in the Repository is, by default, open to the world. For more information, see

About Pervasive Technology Institute

Pervasive Technology Institute (PTI) at Indiana University is a world-class organization dedicated to the development and delivery of innovative information technology to advance research, education, industry, and society. Supported in part by a $15-million grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc., PTI is built upon a spirit of collaboration and brings together researchers and technologists from a range of disciplines and organizations, including the IU School of Informatics and Computing at Bloomington, the IU Maurer School of Law, and University Information Technology Services at Indiana University. For more information, see

Note: The material included in "Cyberinfrastructure Software Sustainability and Reusability" is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. OCI-0829462. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.