The XSEDE Cyberinfrastructure Resource Integration group is dedicated to providing tools that will help campus cyberinfrastructure staff more easily manage their local computing and storage resources.
On the following two points, there is nearly universal agreement: there are not enough people on campuses to meet all the demands for supporting researcher use of advanced cyberinfrastructure; there is simply not enough computational power in the US to support all of the meaningful and important research that the people on campuses managing local campus resources have too much to do and too little time in which to do it. The XSEDE Cyberinfrastructure Resource Integration group is dedicated to providing tools that will help campus cyberinfrastructure staff more easily manage their local computing and storage resources.
To dig a bit deeper into the challenges we face as a research community, let's look at some of the causes of the situation we have today (beyond the issue of simply not enough funding to meet demand):
- Many sysadmins are doing tasks locally, by hand, in ways that are often re-invented over and over again, when those tasks could be largely be made more consistent across campuses and automated
- When users switch between local computing environments and national resources such as those supported by XSEDE, it often feels very disconcerting – few of the commands used locally are applicable on national resources
- Things like writing documentation are hard, often the last things done when building a system, and because of lack of staff it is often the case that busy sysadmins are asked to write documentation for end users
- The state of software for managing and using our many and diverse cyberinfrastructure resources is not good enough and does not effectively support resource sharing
XCRI's goal is to provide as much aid to the US research community on the above four challenges as possible.
XSEDE has excellent solutions for the first of the above tasks. The two cluster building kits supported by XCI - the XSEDE-Compatible Basic Cluster (XCBC) and the The XSEDE National Integration Toolkit (XNIT) - allow campus cyberinfrastructure sysadmins to automate tasks that may easily be automated, focusing their own precious time on meeting needs that are particular to their own local resources and local user needs. When one of these tools is used to build a campus CI system, then this also offers some assistance on the second point above - it becomes significantly less difficult to move from local to national resources because XCBC and XNIT are designed to be "command compatible" with the open source tools used on XSEDE-support cyberinfrastructure resources. Similarly, this commonality of tools means that documentation produced by XSEDE can often be used as a basis for writing local documentation - making that task more straightforward. Last, but definitely not least, XSEDE in general and XCI in particular are working to improve the quality of tools available to manage and integrate diverse CI resources throughout the nation.
We're having an impact on the national CI ecosystem, as evidenced by the following statistics:
- Total aggregate TeraFLOPS of systems running XCBC and / or XNIT: 732
- Total number of CI resource on which one or more XCI tools are used: 594
- Total PetaBytes of files moved via Globus transfer since the start of XSEDE: 148
- Total number of partnership interactions between XCRI and SPs, campus and national CI providers since the start of XSEDE: 72
A youtube library of videos about XCI and its organizational forerunner the XSEDE1 Campus Bridging Group is available online at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL559bTmZO-UXcjgUzRPeElvBL4bqo_RNP
For a look at how XCRI's toolkits have helped campuses put resources in researchers' hands, see the YouTube video XSEDE Helps Small University Connect With Nation's Cyberinfrastructure.