iRODS Overview


The Integrated Rule-Oriented Data System (iRODS) is open source data management software used by research organizations and government agencies worldwide. iRODS is supported and maintained by the iRODS Consortium at RENCI, a research institute of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH), in partnership with the Data Intensive Cyber Environments (DICE) Center at UNC-CH.

The result of almost 20 years and $25M of funded research from more than 30 projects, iRODS is now released as a production-level distribution aimed at deployment in mission critical environments.  iRODS virtualizes data storage resources, so users can take control of their data, regardless of where and on what device the data is stored. As data volumes grow and data services become more complex, iRODS is increasingly important in data management. The development infrastructure supports exhaustive testing on supported platforms; plug-in support for microservices, storage resources, drivers, and databases; and extensive documentation, training, and support services.

Benefits of iRODS

  • iRODS enables data discovery using a metadata catalog that describes every file, every directory, and every storage resource in the data grid.
  • iRODS automates data workflows, with a rule engine that permits any action to be initiated by any trigger on any server or client in the grid.
  • iRODS enables secure collaboration, so users only need to log in to their home grid to access data hosted on a remote grid.
  • iRODS implements data virtualization, allowing access to distributed storage assets under a unified namespace, and freeing organizations from getting locked in to single-vendor storage solutions.

Packaged binaries and source code are available here. iRODS is released under a 3-clause BSD license.

The iRODS Consortium is tasked with ensuring the sustainability of the iRODS technology and providing a mechanism for uniting members of similar interest in the success and sustainability of iRODS.

Want to learn more about iRODS? Check out some of our presentations and whitepapers.

Who Uses iRODS?

iRODS is in use in thousands of locations worldwide.

Here is a listing of selected iRODS users:

Topic / Discipline / Industry Location / Organization
Archives Taiwan National Archive, Chronopolis
Astrophysics Auger supernova search
Atmospheric science NASA Langley Atmospheric Sciences Center
Biology Phylogenetics at CC IN2P3
Climate NOAA National Climatic Data Center
Cognitive Science Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center
Computer Science GENI experimental network
Cosmic Ray AMS experiment on the International Space Station
Dark Matter Physics Edelweiss II
Earth Science NASA Center for Climate Simulations
Ecology CEED Caveat Emptor Ecological Data
Engineering CIBER-U
High Energy Physics BaBar / Stanford Linear Accelerator
Hydrology UNC-CH Institute for the Environment, HydroShare
Institutional Repositories Carolina Digital Repository
Genomics Broad Institute, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, NGS
Libraries French National Library, Texas Digital Libraries
Medicine UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
Neuroscience International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Facility
Neutrino Physics T2K and dChooz neutrino experiments
Oceanography Ocean Observatories Initiative
Optical Astronomy National Optical Astronomy Observatory
Particle Physics Indra multi-detector collaboration at IN2P3
Plant Genetics the iPlant Collaborative
Quantum Chromodynamics IN2P3
Radio Astronomy Cyber Square Kilometer Array, TREND, BAOradio
Seismology Southern California Earthquake Center
Social Science Odum, TerraPop


In 1995, a team led by Reagan Moore of the San Diego Supercomputer Center kicked off a data management project known as the Storage Resource Broker (SRB). SRB was developed through the cooperative efforts of General Atomics, the Data Intensive Computing Environments (DICE) group, and the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) with the support of the National Science Foundation (NSF). The Storage Resource Broker demonstrated the promise of a logical distributed file system that presents users with a single global logical namespace.

The integrated Rule-Oriented Data System (iRODS), was created by the DICE group in 2006 to advance the concepts explored in SRB, but re-written from scratch, as open source software, around a highly-configurable Rule Engine. In 2008, the DICE group expanded, with some members located at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH). With the DICE group on campus, the Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) became progressively more involved in iRODS and formed a dedicated iRODS software engineering team to explore enterprise-grade iRODS technology development. In 2013, RENCI founded the iRODS Consortium, to further the mission and sustainability of iRODS technology.

Funded Projects that supported the development of iRODS Technology

HydroShare NSF 7/1/2012 – 6/30/2017
EarthCube Layered Architecture NSF 4/1/2012 – 3/31/2013
DFC Supplement for Extensible Hardware NSF 9/1/2011 – 8/31/2015
DFC Supplement for Interoperability NSF 9/1/2011 – 8/31/2015
DataNet Federation Consortium NSF 9/1/2011 – 8/31/2016
SDCI Data Improvement NSF 10/1/2010 – 9/30/2013
Subcontract: Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center NSF 1/1/2010 – 12/31/2010
National Climatic Data Center NOAA 10/1/2009 – 9/1/2010
NARA Transcontinental Persistent Archive Prototype NSF 9/15/2009 – 9/30/2010
Subcontract: Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center NSF 3/1/2009 – 12/31/2009
Transcontinental Persistent Archive Prototype NSF 9/15/2008 – 8/31/2013
Petascale Cyberfacility for Seismic Community NSF 4/1/2008 – 3/30/2010
Data Grids for Community Driven Applications NSF 10/1/2007 – 9/30/2010
Joint Virtual Network Centric Warfare DOD 11/1/2006 – 10/30/2007
Petascale Cyberfacility for Seismic NSF 10/1/2006 – 9/30/2009
LLNL Scientific Data Management LLNL 3/1/2005 – 12/31/2008
NARA Persistent Archives NSF 10/1/2004 – 6/30/2008
Constraint-based Knowledge NSF 10/1/2004 – 9/30/2006
NDIIPP California Digital Library LC 2/1/2004 – 1/31/2007
NASA Information Power Grid NASA 10/1/2003 – 9/30/2004
National Science Digital Library NSF 10/1/2002 – 9/30/2006
NARA Persistent Archive NSF 6/1/2002 – 5/31/2005
SCEC Community Modeling NSF 10/1/2001 – 9/30/2006
Particle Physics Data Grid DOE 8/15/2001 – 8/14/2004
Grid Physics Network NSF 7/1/2000 – 6/30/2005
Digital Library Initiative UCSB NSF 9/1/1999 – 8/31/2004
Digital Library Initiative Stanford NSF 9/1/1999 – 8/31/2004
Persistent Archive NARA 9/1999 – 8/2000
Information Power Grid NASA 10/1/1998 – 9/30/1999
Terascale Visualization DOE 9/1/1998 – 8/31/2002
Persistent Archive NARA 9/1998 – 8/1999
NPACI data management NSF 10/1/1997 – 9/30/1999
DOE ASCI DOE 10/1/1997 – 9/30/1999
Distributed Object Computation Testbed DARPA/USPTO 8/1/1996 – 12/31/1999
Massive Data Analysis Systems DARPA 9/1/1995 – 8/31/1996