Biotics Upgrade: Roadmap Under Construction
The top priority for NatureServe’s Information Systems Division during FY2011 is to complete the development roadmap for upgrading the Biotics platform. This roadmap will lay out a prioritized and realistic plan for delivering the new system in incremental releases over the next three years, starting with development of the most critical components—a “critical path upgrade”—to begin this year. Our design goals for the next generation of Biotics are to:
- modernize the technology platform
- streamline the user experience
- limit duplication of data across nodes
- reduce the total cost of ownership for the network
The goal for the critical path upgrade is to focus on system components that have the highest risk for failure and end of life issues, including elimination of the ArcView 3.X platform.
Planning for the next-generation Biotics gained intensity during FY2010 through network-based assessments of the current Biotics data model and spatial methodology. Network representatives also assessed priority issues and recommended enhancements to meet user needs and streamline workflows, especially with respect to managing observation data and the process of developing observations into element occurrences. Complementing the work of these network assessment teams, NatureServe’s Biotics release planning team developed specific recommendations for the next-generation Biotics software architecture and hosting platform.
To expedite development and help control costs, we will build on existing web services and web-enabled applications to the extent possible. Key features of the next-generation Biotics will include:
- a hosted web application
- an integrated interface for spatial and tabular data
- separate application and database instances for each member program
- multi-language support
- web service access between data nodes
One key benefit of the proposed Biotics architecture is that, by eliminating multiple local desktop installations and minimizing the number of hosting locations, the system can utilize a pooled collection of servers and software licenses. This architecture reduces the cost of deploying, maintaining, and supporting the system; improves the performance of queries between data nodes; and ensures that all users are accessing the latest version of the application. The Biotics release planning team believes that this architecture represents the best long-term solution for an affordable, sustainable, and updatable information system and will provide a common operating platform that strengthens our network.