Virtual Research Environment IG (VRE-IG)


Group details

Secretariat Liaison: 
Timea Biro
TAB Liaison: 
Rainer Stotzka
IG Established

VREs are synonymous with Science Gateways (SGs) in the USA and Virtual Laboratories (VLs) in Australia, and are increasingly being used to support a more dynamic approach to collaborative working across the internet. The proposed VRE-IG will explore all aspects of existing and planned future VRE/SG/VLs with the aim of moving towards common policies and best practices, such as those now being promoted by the European EOSC, the US XSEDE and the Australian NRDC. There is currently no coordination of the development of the underlying architectures, as well as specifications for components and interfaces in any of these initiatives, nor is there any agreed best practice way to connect to the major research infrastructures, in particular data to compute resources. Likewise there is also no mechanism for sharing best practice, skills, tools and software that connect tools to data in online environments that could ultimately allow these individual VREs to interoperate on a global scale. The goal is to create "building blocks" of common data infrastructures and building specific "data bridges" to enable online sharing and in situ processing of data. The US SGCI - started in August 2016 - starts to work on these challenges for the US and will closely collaborate with this IG.


The VRE IG will aim to act as a longer-term organization responsible for tracking and contributing to the evolution of VRE/SG/VL technologies, particularly as they relate to data access. It will also seek to engage with those seeking to make use of these online technologies in an effort to identify the necessary technical aspects, social and community building practices, required skills, as well as governance issues and best practice required to support a more coordinated approach to the development of the collaborative environments that enable data sharing and in situ online processing.


The proposed VRE-IGgroup is in effect, an ‘umbrella group’ would bring together:

  1. Those initiatives that are actively developing VRE/SGs/VLs internationally;

  2. Representatives of the common e Infrastructure (eIs) services e.g.,  European Data Infrastructure (EUDAT); European Open Science Cloud (EOSC); US XSEDE; and the Australian National Research Data Cloud (NRDC); and

  3. Specific RDA groups (e.g., software citation, metadata IG, Versioning IG, etc.) that are developing outputs that themselves are best practice inputs to groups developing VREs.

Recent Activity

07 Mar 2018

Gateways 2018 Call for Participation (1st deadline: May 7)

Call for Participation: Gateways 2018 (September 25–27, at the University of Texas at Austin) is now accepting submissions of papers, demos, tutorials, and panels (2–4 pages) on the topic of science or engineering gateways. Gateways are user-friendly interfaces to scientific computing, data, and other domain-specific resources to support research and education.

26 Feb 2018

Re: [vre_ig] Re: [vre_ig] RE: [vre_ig] Re: [vre_ig] Looking for authoritat...

Good morning
I'm also new in this group and I would like provide my "2 cents".
Having read the full thread so far, it looks like there are two different
- Sandra's & co. approach, which focus more on the commonalities.
- Alex' & co. approach, which focus on the differences.
(sorry Sandra and Alex for using you as a proxy for groups of people with
same views).
Working with VRE and SG, I tend to agree with Sandra&co. that it might be
beneficial to remark commonalities, , unless it is really necessary to

22 Feb 2018

Re: [vre_ig] RE: [vre_ig] Re: [vre_ig] Looking for authoritative definitio...

Dear all,
I very much appreciate this conversation, as we (at the Science Gateways
Community Institute) just spent about 9 months convincing Wikipedia to
allow us a unique entry for Science Gateways (now at!). The initial,
curmudgeonly answer we got was that science gateways should be on the
"Portals" page. We argued that VRE

22 Feb 2018

RE: [vre_ig] Looking for authoritative definitions for VRE, VLab, Science...

Sandra, all –
I certainly agree the objective is to converge to common objectives (support of researchers/learners); I thought Leo was looking for some distinction of the current ‘state of the world’ since this could be the start of a roadmap to convergence – but maybe I am ‘overthinking’ Leo’s intention?
Keith G Jeffery Consultants
Prof Keith G Jeffery
E: ***@***.***
T: +44 7768 446088
S: keithgjeffery

22 Feb 2018

Re: [vre_ig] Looking for authoritative definitions for VRE, VLab, Science...

Dear Leo, dear Keith,
this is a discussion we haven't solved yet because I think there is a
different understanding of VREs/SGs/VLs between the communities. My
understanding is that they describe exactly the same systems and not that
there are the differences. At least I hope that we get to this
understanding instead of searching for distinguishing them from each other.
I hope that helps.
Sandra Gesing

22 Feb 2018

RE: [vre_ig] Looking for authoritative definitions for VRE, VLab, Science...

Thanks, that is helpful
Keith G Jeffery Consultants
Prof Keith G Jeffery
E: ***@***.***
T: +44 7768 446088
S: keithgjeffery
The contents of this email are sent in confidence for the use of the
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22 Feb 2018

Re: [vre_ig] Looking for authoritative definitions for VRE, VLab, Science...

Dear all
The Definition of a VL by the Australian National eResearch Collaboration Tools and Resources (NeCTAR) project is “Virtual Laboratories are rich domain-oriented online environments that draw together research data, models, analysis tools and workflows to support collaborative research across institutional and discipline boundaries.” ( )
Take care
From: <***@***.***> on behalf of Keith Jeffrey <***@***.***>
Date: Thursday, 22 February 2018 at 8:09 pm

22 Feb 2018

Looking for authoritative definitions for VRE, VLab, Science Gateway, ...

Dear VRE-IG members,

we all know VRE, VLab, Science Gateway are terms often used as synonyms ... this was discussed in the group many times.

I'm wondering whether there is any document / report / paper worth suggesting for definitions on terms including VREs, VLabs, Science Gateways et simila.  

Besides definition it will be great if you can provide me with documents aiming at highlighting the differences (if any) among these terms.

Thanks for your support.