Founded on Earth Day 1995, The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program is a worldwide hands-on, primary and secondary school-based science and education program. GLOBE's vision promotes and supports students, teachers and scientists to collaborate on inquiry-based investigations of the environment and the Earth system working in close partnership with NASA, NOAA and NSF Earth System Science Projects (ESSPs) in study and research about the dynamics of the Earth's environment. Currently, 108 countries are involved with GLOBE.
The GLOBE website originally utilized a variety of technologies established over 15 years of operations - becoming difficult to maintain and enhance. GLOBE and its partners wanted to develop a new, modern and collaborative environment, while maintaining the content, features and legacy data associated with the original system. The new framework was required to support over 25,000 organizations and over 100,000 users with a role structure that provided appropriate permissions and controls for a large community of international users.
RWS was tasked by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center to analyze the GLOBE environment and recommend a new approach for redesigning GLOBE's Data and Information System in collaboration with the GLOBE Program Office at UCAR in Boulder, CO.
Liferay Portal was selected as the primary solution to replace the legacy system and provide new features to help revitalize the program. Liferay Portal provided integrated user management, content management and collaboration within an enterprise-quality architecture. Liferay supported scalability and the ability to operate in dedicated, virtualized or cloud based hosting environments. The ability to integrate J2EE Web Based Technologies easily into a portlet allowed for customized solutions and applications where needed.
Liferay also offered the ability to integrate with backend legacy systems while creating a new and consistent look and feel across GLOBE.gov. GLOBE's Liferay solution has proven the ability to handle serving over 27,000 individual organizations and pages, as well as supporting a complex organization and permissions hierarchy. On top of the large number of organizational pages, GLOBE serves 100,000 individual customizable user pages with the scalability to handle more as the program grows.
Through Liferay's modular Software Development Kit, the development of plugins was easy to build and maintain. The SDK Plugins enabled RWS to distribute plugin development and plugins' individual enhancements. The ability to develop hooks into Liferay's core systems supported customization of GLOBE.gov's website features as well as development of migration tools for transferring 15 years worth of user and organizational information.
Business Value Added
Since initial rollout, the GLOBE website has added over 5000 additional users and has seen the average monthly traffic increase by 20%. Scaling has not been an issue. GLOBE is being moved to a cloud hosting environment resulting in significant cost savings – something which was not possible with the previous legacy architectures. A number of communities have been quickly established (using templates) to support different subgroups within GLOBE, both for the United States and for international partnerships.