Creating Research Computing and Cyberinfrastructure

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Major Issues:

CU-Boulder must expand IT infrastructure and services to support the success of its world-class research activities.

This "cyberinfrastructure" will consist of computational systems, high-performance data networks, extensive data storage facilities and a central data center to house research systems and will include central technical support.

This centralized model will enhance research computing activities and collaborations, allowing researchers to focus on the discovery and communication of new knowledge efficiently, securely, and cost-effectively. Adopting central IT services requires building trust between the research community and its service providers.

Oversight will be provided by an advisory board of research faculty.

Specific Recommendations:

  1. Create a committee made up of research faculty to oversee development of central research computing resources and to provide continued oversight of the initiative to ensure that it meets the needs of campus researchers.
  2. Develop a funding model to sustain centralized research computing resources that is transparent, fair, provides predictable costs, encourages integration of IT resources and is agreeable to the research community and their funding agencies.
  3. Create a Center for Research Computing, HPRC, and Cyberinfrastructure to develop, maintain and promote the campus' research computing capabilities, and to support our research community in the use of these capabilities.
  4. Develop capabilities to support computing-, visualization-, and simulation-heavy research in the humanities and social sciences, including the capability to analyze non-numerical types of data, including visual, textual, geographic, and audio.
  5. With input from key stakeholders, establish a central research computing data center that meets the research community's unique requirements for capacity, flexibility, efficiency and security; that accommodates central and independently controlled systems; and that provides the requisite staffing to effectively perform primary support functions.
  6. In order to meet the elevated demands of research, improve the reliability of the campus network and its capacity, both intra-campus and to the outside world. Mitigate competition for bandwidth with other network users through segregation and/or traffic management to achieve higher and more predictable performance.
  7. Ensure that necessary archival data can be preserved in a usable form in perpetuity.
  8. Provide means to further integrate research efforts with national efforts, including participation in national cyberinfrastructure initiatives such a TeraGrid, thereby increasing opportunities for partnerships between individuals, other research universities, national centers, and private industry.

Evaluation:

  • Determine if the number of successful grant proposals increases.
  • Determine if the number of grant proposals from underrepresented academic and research disciplines increases.
  • Determine if the number of distributed/local server farms decreases, or at least stops expanding.
  • Evaluate the university's energy savings due to consolidation of systems into a more energy-efficient data center.
  • Evaluate the continued viability of the established funding model in terms of sustainability and perceived fairness to participants.
  • Evaluate the benefits to expanding research collaboration, both internal and external to the university.
  • Evaluate adoption rate of centralized services and level of satisfaction of users.
  • Gauge compliance with policies governing the use and storage of sensitive data as a result of centralizing services.
  • Evaluate the success and value of data management and preservation methods.
For questions about ITSP, please contact Marin Stanek by email at Marin.Stanek@colorado.edu or phone at 303-735-5225.