The impact of web services at the IRIS DMC
Abstract:The IRIS Data Management Center (DMC) has served the seismological community for nearly 25 years. In that time we have offered data and information from our archive using a variety of mechanisms ranging from email-based to desktop applications to web applications and web services. Of these, web services have quickly become the primary method for data extraction at the DMC. In 2011, the first full year of operation, web services accounted for over 40% of the data shipped from the DMC. In 2014, over ~450 TB of data was delivered directly to users through web services, representing nearly 70% of all shipments from the DMC that year. In addition to handling requests directly from users, the DMC switched all data extraction methods to use web services in 2014. On average the DMC now handles between 10 and 20 million requests per day submitted to web service interfaces.
The rapid adoption of web services is attributed to the many advantages they bring. For users, they provide on-demand data using an interface technology, HTTP, that is widely supported in nearly every computing environment and language. These characteristics, combined with human-readable documentation and existing tools make integration of data access into existing workflows relatively easy. For the DMC, the web services provide an abstraction layer to internal repositories allowing for concentrated optimization of extraction workflow and easier evolution of those repositories. Lending further support to DMC’s push in this direction, the core web services for station metadata, timeseries data and event parameters were adopted as standards by the International Federation of Digital Seismograph Networks (FDSN).
We expect to continue enhancing existing services and building new capabilities for this platform. For example, the DMC has created a federation system and tools allowing researchers to discover and collect seismic data from data centers running the FDSN-standardized services. A future capability will leverage the DMC’s MUSTANG project to select data based on data quality measurements. Within five years, the DMC’s web services have proven to be a robust and flexible platform that enables continued growth for the DMC. We expect continued enhancements and adoption of web services.