University of Illinois shared computing cluster
Illinois Campus Cluster Interests and Needs Survey
Intense study of the University's financial situation has led to recommendations for controlling operating cost while maintaining or enhancing our effectiveness in carrying out the institution's missions. Both the Stewarding Excellence Report and the Administrative Review and Restructuring Report point out an opportunity to improve our research capacity and competitiveness while decreasing total cost of research computing through the creation of a consolidated research computing cluster.
In support of this, the Campus Cluster Program was initiated and in 2011 we deployed the first instance of the Campus Cluster called Taub. This first instance is intended to be the first in a series of research computing resource deployments. Researchers are responsible only for investing in compute resources, storage, and specialized software licenses. As a result, researchers are able to:
- acquire up to 20% more resources with their available funding;
- allow faculty, research staff and graduate students to focus on their research and not be distracted with the responsibility of operating these resources;
- have the resources managed by a professional team providing support for security patches, attempted hacks, operating system upgrades, and hardware repair, operations and support;
- leverage university-supported infrastructure such as networking, racks, floor space, cooling, and power; and
- leverage the Campus Cluster Program staff efforts in working with vendors to obtain the best price for computing resources by pooling funds from different disciplines to leverage greater group purchasing power.
The deployed system is a research computing cluster with all equipment provided by a single vendor, but allows for variation in the configuration of individual nodes to meet the range of needs represented by the participating faculty and units.
The rationale for this action is fully developed in a CIC White Paper prepared for the provosts by the chief information officers of all of the CIC institutions (A Research Cyberinfrastructure Strategy for the CIC: Advice to the Provosts from the Chief Information Officers). Consolidating research clusters minimizes infrastructure cost and maximizes use while offering every individual researcher the benefit of accessing computing resources above and beyond what their own grant funds can provide.
As we continue to develop the Campus Cluster Program, we are collecting technical requirements for subsequent instances of the shared campus research cluster. To date, the first instance, Taub, has been quite successful and has been a very cost efficient solution for faculty with funds for investing in research computing resources. This survey is the primary mechanism by which we collect and understand the needs of the Illinois research community.
If you need assistance in completing this survey to understand how best to express your needs, please feel free to contact our Campus Cluster User Services (staffed from the NCSA Consulting Office on the Urbana campus) at 217-244-1144 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We appreciate your time and input to make this program as successful and responsive to the needs of Illinois researchers as possible.
Go to the Interests and Needs Survey