Advanced User Support

Advanced user support offers help that goes beyond the general (basic) user support to provide specialised and more in-depth competence to a research group or community. Advice and dedicated efforts from highly competent IT experts can boost the potential exploitation of HPC resources and data services. Ultimately, the Advanced User support should contribute to effective and optimal use of the national computing and data-storage facilities.

Target group: 

This service is available to staff and students at Norwegian universities and university colleges. Researchers in independent research institutes may also gain access to this service, provided that their work is funded by public grants and meets requirements for scientific publication.


The Metacentre is the main contributor of AUS. The people performing the AUS should as a rule be employed by a Metacentre at a university, exceptions need approval from Sigma2. The focus of the Metacentre is to work closely with the researchers in order to help them to utilize the HPC and storage resources in the best possible way.

Applicants for advanced user support should be responsible for an on-going project on the HPC and/or data storage resources, or have the intention to become responsible for such project.

Status description: 

The service is in full production mode

Description of the service: 

Advanced user support are classified in Discipline specific AUS and Project-based AUS. The two categories are different in terms of:

  • Who initiates the support
  • Length of support
  • Amount and type of support
  • Local involvement and commitment
  • Funding
  • Plans, follow-up and documentation

Project-based AUS
Project-based AUS can be the sole initiative of a researcher or a science area. The RFK may grant 2-3 PMs spent over a maximum of 6 months, but is open to consider larger projects. The expected results should preferably have value and benefits beyond the project itself. The exception is for new science areas that need help to start using e-infrastructure. Examples of project based AUS are: 

  • Large projects requiring lots of CPU hours or large storage space which should “automatically” receive AUS to ensure resources are used most efficiently
  • Help to optimize the code with parallelization to use many cores
  • Support to develop and implement special extensions to a data management plan with the combined effort from a Metacentre community expert and competent individuals from the community itself
  • 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

Download and fill in the project description

Evaluation criteria for project based AUS proposals are:

  • 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

Reporting AUS - more information

The advanced support activity does not fund:

  • Research projects. Instead, advanced support targets software engineering and software development tasks that are of direct benefit to research activity
  • Tasks that are considered regular user support. Advanced support targets activity that requires skilled or specific competence that is not covered by the ordinary help-desk support of the Metacenter
  • Local staff. Instead, advanced support provides assistance with qualified personnel in computational science and scientific computing with good skills in programming, software development, code optimization and complex application enabling

Discipline specific AUS
Discipline specific advanced user support can be initiated in cooperation between UNINETT Sigma2 and the universities, with a science discipline focusing on the need for more long-term support.

Examples of data storage discipline AUS:

  • Survey (and restrict) and broad classification of the existing data
  • Create and/or implement data-plans
  • Define META data
  • Decide/Define storage formats
  • Appraise/Assess suitable tools
  • Deploy tools
  • Define Librarian function and/or perform it for a shorter period ( 6 months)
  • Establish portal(s)

Examples of HPC discipline AUS:

  • Develop tools
  • Major rewriting/adaption of code for new architectures
  • Research/investigate latest development in HPC for an area and write a proposal for implementation/ new practise to consider/implement, new applications
  • Responsibility for the application portfolio

The costs associated with the operation of and investments for the service are covered by grants from the Research Council of Norway and contributions from four universities, the Universitites of Tromsø, Bergen and Oslo and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

In order to secure sufficient involvement from both parties, a general pre-requisite for obtaining AUS is that the applicant(s) must provide some of the funding for the AUS. Exceptions for funding can be made when there are clear benefits to other science areas. The exact funding ratio is determined in the call for applications.

Order info: 

Scientists can apply for project based advanced support by sending an application to UNINETT Sigma2. Applications for Project-based advanced user support are handled continuously and might thus be submitted at any time and outside regular calls. Science communities interested in discipline specific AUS are encouraged to contact UNINETT Sigma2 for more information.

Organization of the service: 

UNINETT Sigma2 coordinates the e-infrastructure both nationally and internationally, and assists customers in the administration of allocated resources. RFK distributes resources in accordance with priorities and recommendations from UNINETT Sigma2.