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Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives

Common Interoperability Characteristics

The software architecture is intended to meet CESSDA’s five common interoperability characteristics as follows. In each case, CESSDA’s objective for the characteristic is stated, followed by the approach used to achieve it.

Loosely coupled but coordinated

  • Objective: enable Service Providers to retain independence, yet fully interact in an integrated service. Approach: the adoption of a (micro) services architecture based on REST web service APIs provides a mechanism for reusing and combining software artefacts, regardless of their implementation details or coding language. The API design guidelines are intended to ensure a level of consistency (in both the calling and return structures and formats) that will reduce the burden of interacting with multiple services.

See also 12 factor, number 7 (Port binding - Export services via port binding).

Sustainable

  • Objective: enable medium and long term investment and business change decisions to be made. Approach: The provision of common standards (via this document), a common development and test environment (via the technical infrastructure) and deployment environment (via extensions to the technical infrastructure) and a central source-code repository will help reduce ‘technical debt’ and hence facilitate business-driven change to the CESSDA RI.

See also 12 factor app, number 1 (Codebase - One codebase tracked in revision control, many deploys).

Extensible

  • Objective: enable additional services to be built on or around it, including adapting to changing functional requirements over time. Approach: New services can be added as required, as the integration point is the API. New and/or existing services can be combined as required via their APIs to meet changing functional requirements. Versioning the APIs and supporting two versions simultaneously allows services to evolve, without breaking the contract they provide to their consumers.

See also 12 factor app, number 8 (Concurrency - Scale out via the process model).

See also 12 factor app, number 9 (Disposability - Maximise robustness with fast startup and graceful shutdown).

Maintainable

  • Objective: enable components to be updated when IT specifications change. Approach: Provided the API contract is maintained, the implementation of a service can be changed as required, to take advantage of developments in software technology. The use of REST APIs means that the location of services can be changed as required, to take advantage of developments in hardware technology.

See also 12 factor app, number 2 (Dependencies - Explicitly declare and isolate dependencies).

Standards based

  • Objective: enable the coordinated and planned change to all the coupled, but coordinated, services. Approach: The provision of common architectural standards (via this document), in particular a consistent (in both the calling and return structures and formats) and versioned API will reduce the burden of change.

See also 12 factor app, number 4 (Backing services - Treat backing services as attached resources).