Squonk (animal) logo with title text 'Squonk' and subtitle 'Data Manager'


This page describes some key concepts that are useful to know when using the Squonk Data Manager


A user is a logged in user of the Data Manager. They are defined in our Keycloak Single Sign On (SSO) system. You will need an account setting up there in order to become a user. Once done you are potentially able to use any of the Squonk applications.

Projects Organisations and Units

The Data Manager has the concept of an Organisation (e.g. your company or university) and within that Organisation you have Units (e.g. a research group or department). A Project is where you can do some work and collaborate with others, and Projects belong to a Unit. A Project allows to isolate your work and provide access to it to specific users. The Unit is responsible for the usage of all its projects and will need to pay the costs for that usage.

There is a Default Organisation which all users can belong to, and within that Default Organisation you will be given your own Personal unit where you can create Projects. Alternatively, we can set up and organisation for you and your coworkers, or can set up a complete Squonk2 environment for you.

Project tiers

A project is allocated to a particular Tier.

  • Evaluation - limited quota and all data is public
  • Bronze - limited quota and data can be made private
  • Silver - like bronze but with more quota
  • Gold - like silver but with more quota

Evaluation Projects are always public and visible to all users, but are free to use. Projects in other tiers can be made private and restricted to specific users. See below for more info.


Datasets are files that you can work with. You don't need to use datasets to do some work in Data Manager, but using them has the following benefits:

  • Datasets can be shared with other users.
  • Datasets can be versioned.
  • Metadata is indexed e.g. descriptions and data types of the fields in a SD-file.
  • Datasets with molecules (e.g. SD-files) are indexed with the RDKit cartridge, which in future will allow structure searches to be performed to identify the use of molecules, or similar molecules in other Datasets.
  • Other useful operations on datasets will follow.

Datasets visible to you are displayed on the Datasets tab.

The project Workspace

As mentioned, a Project is where you do your work, which can be kept private or shared with other users. Typically you work with normal files in your project. The project can be thought of as a bit of disk space accessible only to users of your Project. That disk space is accessible when your run applications or jobs (see below). You have complete control over what you do in your project.

Files can be added to a project so that you can work on them. Datasets can also be attached to a project, and project files can be added as new Datasets. Files will also typically be created in your project by running applications and jobs.

Access Control

Only you and people you have added to your project can access the files in your project. Projects can be shared with users outside your organisation. Users can be added as editors or observers of the project. Editors have full access rights, observers can see the content but cannot change anything. For public projects all users are effectively observers.

File access is controlled by standard POSIX permissions, with files typically being read and writable by the user and the group.

Each user has a unique user id and each project has an unique group id, with all users added to the project being members of that group. This means that, with the file permissions described above, users added to your project have read-write access to your files. Other users will be able to see the files if the project is a public project but not if it is private.


An application is something that can be launched and run for a period of time (including several days). The application typically has access to your project's bit of disk space so can work with its files.

Currently the only application we have is Jupyter Notebooks. You can start a notebook to work with your files, and your notebook .ipynb file is also stored in your project providing a record of your work.

The application runs as a Kubernetes pod in the Kubernetes cluster in which Data Manager is running.


Jobs are a bit like very specialised applications. The are designed to process data in a very specific way, but allowing the user to specify the parameters of how the processing is performed. We have a wide range of jobs.

To help illustrate this we'll use the max-min-picker job as an example. This allows a diverse subset of molecules to be selected from a set of input molecules. When you run the job you are prompted for various parameters such as the inputs and the number of molecules to pick.

That particular job is implemented as a Python module, using RDKit, but there are lots of ways of creating jobs. A guide to creating jobs can be found here. Creating jobs is a role for a developer, but using them once they have been deployed is very easy.

Like applications, jobs run as Kubernetes pods. Some jobs are very simple and complete in seconds, whilst others can run complex parallelised workflows and take hours to complete.

We encourage 3rd parties to contribute jobs, and would like to point out that there is a mechanism to monitise your jobs should you need to so you get paid when other users run you jobs. See the next section for more details.

Resource Usage

How is this all paid for?

Well, if you are an organisation deploying a Squonk2 environment to your own Kubernetes cluster (or if Informatics Matters is doing this for you) then you are already paying for the CPU and memory resources being used. If you are using our public evaluation site then we make Evaluation tier projects available for free, but all data in them is public so visible to any user, and these have limited resource quotas. If you want to keep your data private or need more resources then you can subscribe your project to the Bronze, Silver or Gold tiers, which differ mostly in the usage quotas, with Gold having the highest quota.

Billing is not yet implemented, but once it is you will pay monthly fees for Bronze, Silver and Gold Tier projects. The responsibility for payment is at the Unit or Organisation level. If you are using your own Personal unit in the Default Organisation you are responsible for payment of your Bronze, Silver and Gold Tier projects.

Usage is managed using a concept of Squonk Coins (or coins for short). A coin has a monetary value, and your projects get a monthly quota of coins (Gold tier projects get the biggest quota). Coins are "consumed" by one of these activities:

  • Storage used by your project (e.g. the size of all the files in GBs)
  • Execution of applications or jobs
  • Dataset storage

Storage usage is fairly straight forward. At regular periods each day the storage is calculated and recorded. The maximum daily usage is then used to deduct the appropriate number of coins from your project's account. We also do a linear projection of what your current usage will cost by the end of your billing month, but of course this is only an estimate.

Application and job usage is handled differently. Each time an application or job is run it can consume coins that reflect:

  • The CPU, GPU and memory resource needed for execution
  • Any IP or licensing costs

Don't worry, most jobs are free or have such a trivial cost that has no impact. But some jobs (e.g. virtual screening using docking) consume lots of CPU so have a real cost of execution. Also, some jobs might have significant IP value or use commercial software that has to be paid for so those can have costs of execution.

As of the time of writing, the mechanism for defining job usage is quite basic and no payment systems are in place so there is no need to be concerned about clocking up big bills. And even once in place you can be reassured that the costs will be very reasonable! And we believe this "marketplace" concept where one user can provide access to a job or application that has high value to other users and the supplier of that IP can get rewarded for it if they wish is a unique concept of Squonk that makes total sense.

Also needing some description is Dataset usage. You may recall that you can only use Datasets if you want to (but probably you should!). Those datasets consume their own storage outside of any project, so we also have consumption of coins for Datasets used by any Unit. Typically this is not much of an issue, but if you are wanting to use Datasets of large size (e.g. many GBs) then this might impact your Unit's costs.

Finally, what happens when you hit your quota limit? Typically you can keep working, but the coins consumed above your quota are added to your monthly bill at a higher rate than you get when you buy the Bronze, Silver or Gold tier project. If you don't want the unexpected "end of month" bill then your can specify to not exceed your quota (or only exceed it by a certain number of coins). Once you hit your hard quota limit then operations in the Data Manager that consume coins (adding new files, running jobs etc.) are disabled. You can still see your data, and remove unnecessary files. And you can upgrade to a tier with a bigger quota.