This article discusses the drivers behind the formation of the Research Data Alliance (RDA), its current state, the lessons learned from its fi rst full year of operation, and its anticipated impact on data publishing and sharing. One of the pressing challenges in data infrastructure (taken here to include issues relating to hardware, software and content format, as well as human actors) is how best to enable data interoperability across boundaries. This is particularly critical as the world deals with bigger and more complex problems that require data and insights from a range of disciplines. The RDA has been set up to enable more data to be shared across barriers to address these challenges. It does this through focused Working Groups and Interest Groups, formed of experts from around the world, and drawing from the academic, industry, and government sectors.