September 18, 2020

The IDSA Plugfest as a Driver for a Vital IDS Ecosystem

Building and expanding a technical standard is a challenge. This is especially true for IDS. In our interview, Anna Maria Schleimer, Research Assistant at Fraunhofer ISST, explains why the IDSA Plugfest is a particularly good way to test whether components are compatible with the IDS Reference Architecture Model.

An interview with Anna Maria Schleimer

IDSA: The IDSA and Fraunhofer ISST team up quarterly to organize the IDSA Plugfest. What exactly is the Plugfest and what are its goals?

Anna Maria Schleimer: The Plugfest is an opportunity for developers to come together to make their software compatible. The components of the IDS ecosystem are technically integrated, and the sovereign data system is tested. This is the first step toward practical realization of the ecosystem. Despite its seemingly casual atmosphere, the Plugfest is enormously important and we work hard to continuously adapt and improve it.

IDSA: Please describe to us exactly how the IDSA Plugfest is run?

Anna Maria Schleimer: The Plugfest takes its cues from the technical developments of the previous weeks. In order to support integration in the best way possible, we ask ourselves exactly which information is important to the participants at this specific point in time. We do not only present the latest developments with PowerPoint slides but are hands-on oriented.

IDSA: What prior knowledge do participants need to have?

Anna Maria Schleimer: It’s the goal of the Plugfest to build the IDS ecosystem. For that reason, participants should be familiar with the different software components and their role within the IDS ecosystem. Familiarity with the overall concepts of data ecosystems and data sovereignty also facilitates a smooth start. In addition, it is helpful if participants have a strong interest in collaborating with other organizations and are willing to ask questions.

IDSA: What are some of the concrete activities that Plugfest participants engage in?

Anna Maria Schleimer: Let me illustrate this with an example. The Fraunhofer ISST team has integrated the Dataspace Connector with other connectors at the recent Plugfest. The connectors itself consist of different IDS components. When there are innovations, updates or completely new developments, the connector must be updated to ensure compatibility with the other components as well as other connectors. That means, for example, to implement the latest version of the information model for the Dataspace Connector.

IDSA: What are the specific challenges for the Plugfest in building a data ecosystem?

Anna Maria Schleimer: We are interorganizational and intercultural: Plugfest participants come from a variety of companies, institutions and countries. In addition, we deal with varying degrees of technological maturity and different speeds in developing components. Finally, new and longstanding members must work together. We share the common goal of building an IDS ecosystem. Every participant benefits from the progress of all the others. This is what makes the ecosystem-concept special among IDS projects compared to a software project in a company.

IDSA: How has the Coronavirus pandemic affected the Plugfest? Has it created new opportunities?

Anna Maria Schleimer: The pandemic has turned the Plugfest into a virtual event. Unfortunately, this has impacted the hackathon-character and the workshop experience of the event. At the same time the number of participants has grown. A virtual event enables more participation regardless of distance or time zone. In the future we could conceive of a hybrid between a physical and virtual event. The pandemic has given us new food for thought. We are working on continually improving the event and trying out new directions.

Ms Schleimer, thank you very much for your time.

More about the Plugfest at

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