Advanced User Support

Advanced User Support (AUS) provides dedicated support by experts to projects using the national e-infrastructure. AUS offers help that goes beyond basic user support to provide specialised and more in‐depth competence to a research group or community using the national e-infrastructure. This includes free, dedicated efforts from our highly competent experts to enable or boost the potential exploitation of our HPC resources and data services. Ultimately, the advanced user support should contribute to effective and optimal use of the national HPC and storage facilities.

Service description — What is Advanced User Support?

Three types of Advanced User Support

Advanced user support is classified into Project-based AUS, Discipline specific AUS and User Liaisons. The two first categories are different in terms of:

  • How the support request is initiated
  • Amount and type of support
  • Duration of support
  • Beneficiary's involvement and commitment
  • Expected co-funding
  • Requirements for plans, reporting and documentation


User Liaison AUS are special long-term arrangements co-developed and co-funded with strategic partners, such as national research infrastructures (including ESFRI nodes), Centers of Excellence (CoEs) or large user communities.
 

The various AUS types

Project-based Advanced User Support

A project-based AUS can be the initiative of a project manager (Principal Investigator) of any project using the national e-infrastructure, or a participant in such a project, subject to the approval of the project manager. Project-based AUS may also be applied for by Principal Investigators with the intention of becoming users of the national e-infrastructure as a result of the AUS.

The Committee may grant up to 3 PMs spent over a maximum of 6 months. Larger projects may be considered. The expected results should preferably have value and benefits beyond the project itself. New science areas that need help to start using the national e-infrastructure can also apply, with the expectation of becoming a project (user of the national e-infrastructure).


Examples:

  • Large projects requiring lots of CPU hours or large storage space in which AUS may ensure that resources are used most efficiently (optimization)
     
  • Help to optimize the code with parallelization to use many cores
     
  • Support to develop and implement special extensions to a data management plan
     
  • Establish the criteria and plan for the execution of an archive-wide conversion of all data to new formats as part of the data preservation plan


The RFK considers the following evaluation criteria:

  •  
  • Clarity, completeness and quality of the proposal
     
  • The (expected) impact of the proposed activity on addressing the scientific challenge, on the relevant user community at large, as well as on application software, in terms of performance, functionality and/or usability.
     
  • Feasibility and risk assessment, in particular with respect to timely and successful completion of the project.
     
  • The in-kind or cash contribution to support the staff that will complete the proposed activity.

Discipline-specific Advanced User Support

Discipline-specific AUS can be initiated in cooperation between Uninett Sigma2 and the universities, with a science discipline focusing on the need for more long-term support. Such AUS-es can have allocations of more than 12 PMs spent over a maximum of 2 years.

Examples:

  • Survey (and restrict) and a broad classification of the existing data on the national storage infrastructure
     
  • Help create and/or implement data-plans
     
  • Define META data and storage formats
     
  • Assess and deploy suitable tools for a discipline
     
  • Assist in defining Librarian function and/or perform it for a shorter period (months)
     
  • Establish portal(s) for computation or presentation of data
     
  • Major rewriting/adaption of code for new architectures
     
  • Investigate the latest development in HPC for an area and write a proposal for implementation to consider for new applications
     
  • Maintaining a complex discipline-specific application portfolio

User Liaisons conducting Advanced User Support

In some cases, the ultimate expert on a specific application or application area is a user and not someone within the Norwegian research infrastructure services (NRIS).

Typically, this user is the go-to person for a whole user group or community already. When this particular super expert has time and motivation we may benefit from letting this user support his/her own community/application and act as a User Liaison.

In other cases, major Research Infrastructures (such as ESFRI nodes) or Centers of Excellence have extensive activities involving the national e-Infrastructure, often with a high number of users. In these cases, a User Liaison position can be established to act as a liaison between the national e-infrastructure and user group. This is a collaborative effort.

The user liaison is given suitable access and compensation for time spent supporting other users. In addition, the user liaison should work closely with and augment Application Management. Thus, the result should be a win-win for both the user community and NRIS.

Who can use the service?

The AUS service is available to any project using the Sigma2 e-infrastructure, including staff and students at Norwegian universities and university colleges taking part in such projects. The AUS service can also be available to researchers seeking to become users of the Sigma2 e-infrastructure.

Projects from independent research institutes may also access this service, provided that their work is funded by public grants and meets requirements for scientific publication.

See more information about the various AUS types under the Service Description above.

NRIS (Norwegian research infrastructure services) is the main contributor to performing advanced user support. The experts who perform the AUS should as a rule be employed by an NRIS university, exceptions to this rule need approval from Sigma2. The focus of NRIS is to work closely with the researchers to assist in utilizing the HPC and storage resources in the best possible way.

Applicants for advanced user support should be responsible for an ongoing project on the HPC and/or data storage resources, or have the intention of becoming responsible for such a project.

How much does it cost?

The Advanced User Support service is free of charge for project-specific support, i.e., projects already using the national e-infrastructure computing and storage resources.

How to get access?

The steps below will help you through the process for Project-based AUS. For Discipline-specific or User Liaison AUS please contact us by e-mail.

1. Application form

Download the application form and fill in the project description 
All fields in the application must be completed.

The application must be sent (in Word or PDF format) by email to contact@sigma2.no.

2. Work plan

A work plan be submitted once the applicant has received a positive evaluation. The plan must contain a time schedule and milestones from the start to completion of the project.

The applicant and the person(s) carrying out the work must agree on the plan before it is submitted.

3. Progress report

A progress report must be submitted at regular intervals by the project responsible.

  • The frequency of reporting depends on the length of the project period. Progress must be reported at least once every four months.
  • Reporting dates must be specified in the project plan. 

Deviations from the objectives of the project, original project plan, and expected results must be reported as well as any corrective action taken. Each progress report must be approved by the project responsible and the person(s) carrying out the work before it is submitted.

4. Final report

A final report must be submitted at the end of the project.

All final reports will be made available to the Resource Allocation Committee and the Sigma2 Board. Final reports may be referenced during the evaluation of future applications for advanced support.

  • With Advanced User Support from Sigma2 an optimization of the R package PMetrics now allows for larger and more complex pharmacokinetic models to be run on the HPC infrastructure.
  • A web-based digital portal for sharing reference datasets from pioneering CO2 storage projects.

More services

The national e-infrastructure services consist of HPC, data storage and several related services.  

Complete services overview

About the national e-infrastructure services

Sigma2 works closely with the universities of Bergen, Oslo, Tromsø and NTNU to operate the national e-infrastructure services. The collaboration is called NRIS (Norwegian research infrastructure services). It is the NRIS staff who ensures that all researchers who use the national e-infrastructure services get quick and easy access to domain-specific support and related activities.

Together we work to fulfil our vision We enhance excellent research for a better world.

 

NRIS logo.