In vantage6, a client can pose a question to the server, which is then delivered as an algorithm to the node (Fig. 1). When the algorithm completes, the node sends the results back to the client via the server. An algorithm may be enabled to communicate directly with twin algorithms running on other nodes.

Architecture overview

Fig. 1 Vantage6 has a client-server architecture. (A) The client is used by the researcher to create computation requests. It is also used to manage users, organizations and collaborations. (B) The server contains users, organizations, collaborations, tasks and their results. (C) The nodes have access to data and handle computation requests from the server.#

Conceptually, vantage6 consists of the following parts:

  • A (central) server that coordinates communication with clients and nodes. The server is in charge of processing tasks as well as handling administrative functions such as authentication and authorization.

  • One or more node(s) that have access to data and execute algorithms

  • Users (i.e. researchers or other applications) that request computations from the nodes via the client

  • Organizations that are interested in collaborating. Each user belongs to one of these organizations.

  • A Docker registry that functions as database of algorithms

On a technical level, vantage6 may be seen as a container orchestration tool for privacy preserving analyses. It deploys a network of containerized applications that together ensure insights can be exchanged without sharing record-level data.


There are several entities in vantage6, such as users, organizations, tasks, etc. The following statements should help you understand their relationships.

  • A collaboration is a collection of one or more organizations.

  • For each collaboration, each participating organization needs a node to compute tasks.

  • Each organization can have users who can perform certain actions.

  • The permissions of the user are defined by the assigned rules.

  • It is possible to collect multiple rules into a role, which can also be assigned to a user.

  • Users can create tasks for one or more organizations within a collaboration.

  • A task should produce a result for each organization involved in the task.

The following schema is a simplified version of the database:


Fig. 2 Simplified database model#

End to end encryption#

Encryption in vantage6 is handled at organization level. Whether encryption is used or not, is set at collaboration level. All the nodes in the collaboration need to agree on this setting. You can enable or disable encryption in the node configuration file, see the example in Configuration file structure.


Fig. 3 Encryption takes place between organizations therefore all nodes and users from the a single organization should use the same private key.#

The encryption module encrypts data so that the server is unable to read communication between users and nodes. The only messages that go from one organization to another through the server are computation requests and their results. Only the algorithm input and output are encrypted. Other metadata (e.g. time started, finished, etc), can be read by the server.

The encryption module uses RSA keys. The public key is uploaded to the vantage6-server. Tasks and other users can use this public key (this is automatically handled by the python-client and R-client) to send messages to the other parties.


The RSA key is used to create a shared secret which is used for encryption and decryption of the payload.

When the node starts, it checks that the public key stored at the server is derived from the local private key. If this is not the case, the node will replace the public key at the server.


If an organization has multiple nodes and/or users, they must use the same private key.

In case you want to generate a new private key, you can use the command vnode create-private-key. If a key already exists at the local system, the existing key is reused (unless you use the --force flag). This way, it is easy to configure multiple nodes to use the same key.

It is also possible to generate the key yourself and upload it by using the endpoint https://SERVER[/api_path]/organization/<ID>.