How to use the Blue-Cloud technical framework

The Blue-Cloud project is federating distributed marine data resources, computing platforms, and analytical services to better understand and manage the many aspects of ocean sustainability. In order to do so, a “Blue-Cloud technical framework” has been set-up, where leading marine data management infrastructures are federated with horizontal e-infrastructures to maximise the exploitation of data resources available from different sources. 

The Blue-Cloud framework consists of two major technical components: 

The Blue-Cloud VRE includes services that facilitate collaboration between users, services supporting the execution of analytical tasks embedded in a distributed computing infrastructure, as well as services enabling the co-creation of entire Virtual Laboratories, aimed at realising open science-friendly working environments. 

This guide takes users step-by-step through accessing, navigating, and navigating the Blue-Cloud Virtual Research Environment.

Please find instructions on how to: 

  • Create an account on the Blue-Cloud platform
  • Request access to individual Virtual Labs
  • Navigate the VRE

 


Access and navigate the Virtual Research Environment

The VLabs are hosted in the Blue-Cloud Gateway on D4Science. In order to access the VRE, one must either login into the gateway by using an account from a trusted Identity provider or create an account on the Blue-Cloud platform, and then request access to the specific VRE. We outline below the steps required to create an account, sign in, request access to the VRE, and then navigate the environment itself. 

 


Logging in or creating an account

Users can choose to login with one of the featured accounts (see figure below), or they can click on ‘Register’, and enter their details (name, email address and password).

Accessing the VRE

Upon logging into the Blue-Cloud platform, the dashboard will appear. This will be empty upon first login, but the central panel of the screen will fill up with posts and updates from the user’s community, similarly to a social media wall.

The icons on the top-left are as follows:

Blue-Cloud dashboard

Public and private workspace

Resource catalogue

Message inbox

 Search tool

 

In the right column, you will see all the Blue-Cloud VLabs. Some of them allow direct access by clicking on the ‘Access the VRE’ button, while others require users to request access by clicking on the ‘Request Access’ button. Some VLabs are private, and access is by invitation only.

 

Upon requesting access, users are encouraged to write a message to explain how they learned about the VLab, their interest in the VLab, and their expectations of the environment. The access request is sent to the VLab managers, who evaluate it. Upon approval of the request, users will be sent an approval notification to the email address that they used to login or create their Blue-Cloud account.

Navigating the VLab

Upon approval of access, the user can click on the link in the notification email that will take them directly to the VLab, or they can log in to their Blue-Cloud account and navigate to the VLab from the VLab link that should now appear in right column of the Blue-Cloud dashboard which was previously empty.
These links will take the user to another dashboard, which is specific to the VLab. The user can still navigate to the main Blue-Cloud dashboard from the VLab by clicking on the dashboard icon , in the Blue-Cloud menu at the top of the page. 

Users can also navigate to their other VLabs via this top menu. The VRE menu bar in blue is located just below the main Blue-Cloud menu bar, and from here the user can click on the links to the specific sections and tools. In the central panel of the VRE dashboard, users can post updates, as well as read and comment on notifications posted by other users.

 

From the VLab dashboard, users can also access the shared workspace where items of interest are stored and their private workspace where they can store their own documents and where the method reports from Blue-Cloud services will be stored automatically. 

Files and folders can be:

Publicly available 

Shared with members of the Blue-Cloud community

  Private 

Shared with VLab members (each sub-folder in this area is shared with the members of the homonymous VLab)

 

 

For more information