In the IT sector, "architecture" refers to the underlying digital components and starting points for making a holistic IT system executable. As with building a house, numerous fundamental decisions have to be made. The choice of building site and foundation, for example, entails numerous resulting decisions and options in building construction. It is the same in IT. So if the house builder wonders whether there should be a gas connection, a concrete or a wooden foundation, a south or west orientation, the IT architect wonders, for example, about the underlying operating system, the IT protocols used or the authentication and authorization (AAI) process.
The MaterialDigital platform has big things to deal with here, resulting from the multi-faceted demands placed on it. For example, data storage should be decentralized but still be centrally accessible by searching the ontologies. Scripts should be able to process the data locally with the appropriate authorization. And, of course, data sovereignty, authorization assignment and protectability of the contents are of top priority. For this reason, PMD has been investing a lot of manpower in the analysis and implementation of a suitable IT architecture for this purpose since its early days.
In addition one must know: An exactly equivalent system to PMD with this high degree of systematic integration of various components has probably never existed before, and if it does, it is at least not publicly traceable. Although we are familiar with the individual components, such as the workflow and ontology tools, the AAI systems, or the architectural possibilities - their interaction, on the other hand, is often very complex. To meet this challenge, PMD has therefore brought on board experts from the various important specialist areas. In our interdisciplinary team, it is important to offer the individual experts enough room for discussion to pull together despite their different backgrounds.
Since its launch, a lot has happened in terms of PMD's architecture. For example, the platform has decided to use International Data Spaces (IDS) as the basis for data exchange between PMD participants. IDS is being developed by a large consortium of industry and academia and enables secure and data-sovereign exchange. Within a single PMD server, these components run in containers. A SingleSignOn (SSO) is used for authentication. The essential components of the platform run in the individual containers: workflow tools, such as SimStack or pyiron, graph databases for the ontology, the app store and other building blocks.
As you can see, deciding on and building the right architecture is incredibly important and labor-intensive from an IT perspective for PMD - but in the end it is only the foundation for the actual desired functionalities. Or do you know the foundation of your house?