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XSEDE as a Collaborator on Proposals

XSEDE is often approached to collaborate on proposals with members of our community in response a variety of solicitations.

Due to the highly collaborative nature of XSEDE, it is also not uncommon that conflicts of interest will arise in these situations.  To enable submitters  to leverage existing XSEDE services that may be advantageous to their proposal and to avoid conflicts of interest with respect to collaborators and XSEDE staff, we provide on this page a list of items, efforts, activities, etc., that XSEDE is willing to commit to collaborate on with any potential collaborator. Collaborators can then request a letter of commitment from the XSEDE PI that commits XSEDE to the collaboration in their proposal (standard commitment form letter in the case of NSF proposals) with the understanding that they select only from the menu of options provided.

If there are collaboration options not noted below which you are interested in exploring, XSEDE is willing to consider them, but, to be clear, in order to manage potential conflicts of interest, XSEDE must offer any option to all potential collaborators.

To further manage conflicts of interest, all potential collaborators should direct their communications about proposal collaborations with XSEDE to the XSEDE PI (John Towns, jtowns@ncsa.illinois.edu).

NOTE:  Not all solicitations present conflict of interest issues.  In cases that do not present a conflict, more direct communications with XSEDE staff can occur.  If you have any question regarding this, please contact the XSEDE PI.

Anticipated Types of Collaborations

In developing this page, we considered a number of types of solicitations to which responses may leverage XSEDE capabilities.  Certainly this list is not exhaustive and is meant only to be representative of the types of solicitations considered. Here we provide a list of anticipated collaboration types and XSEDE capabilities that may be most relevant.  This is not meant to restrict thinking on how various capabilities might be leveraged, but to draw attention to those that are most likely to be of interest. This page will be updated as new solicitations are released and their needs are identified and also as areas of potential collaboration are identified.  

Hardware/Instrument Acquisition:  These proposals would be pursuing the acquisition and operation of hardware systems and related services.  While these certainly might be computing resources, this category includes other types of hardware that might be proposed such as storage environments, visualization capabilities and, more generally, scientific instruments. The proposals typically involve the need to not only provide support in the use of the resources, but also require allocation of that resource to the appropriate community, managing access to the resource, community outreach and other efforts.  Given the nature of XSEDE, nearly all of the areas of potential collaboration noted below will potentially be relevant. Examples of such solicitations would be NSF MRIs, NSF advanced computing systems calls, MREFC projects operating their own cyberinfrastructure environment, etc.

Software Development:  This term is considered very broadly and could range from development of domain specific application codes, community codes, middleware, tolls and a broad range of other areas.    

Incorporating XSEDE Collaborative Efforts into Proposal Budgets

XSEDE's goal is to provide opportunities for collaboration while being blind to the specific plans of each potential collaborator during the competitive proposal process. This issue has been raised with NSF via the XSEDE project cognizant program officer.  Potential collaborators should also raise this issue with the cognizant program officer(s) of the solicitation to which they are responding to discuss this issue and obtain guidance.

 

Potential Collaboration Areas

Below we have provided a set of additional options for collaborators to consider. Again, other options are possible, and interested potential collaborators should discuss other options with the XSEDE PI. In each case, we have described any associated costs that collaborators would need to budget to support.

Education, Training, Outreach, and Community Engagement

The Education and Student Programs within XSEDE's Community Engagement and Enrichment (CEE) Workforce Development area provide a continuum of learning resources and services designed to address the needs and requirements of researchers, educators, developers, integrators, and students utilizing advanced digital resources. The Education and Student Programs deliver these services via curricular materials, faculty enhancement, and student engagement. In the context of collaborations, the XSEDE Education and Student Programs can:

  1. Provide curricular materials for introducing real advanced research computing in science, math, and computer science classes,

  2. Offer faculty workshops for professional development enabling computational science and advanced research computing fundamentals to be infused into curricula,

  3. Facilitate and support efforts to extend existing educational programs with computational science and advanced research computing, and

  4. Engage students in furthering their advanced research computing skills with authentic internship opportunities that include expert mentorship and access to XSEDE resources.

In support of this effort, collaborators can choose to participate in a number of ways. If collaborators wish to have educational materials developed for a new course and wish XSEDE CEE staff to assist them, 25% of an FTE should be allocated to XSEDE to support this effort. If collaborators wish to coordinate with XSEDE educational staff and participate actively in CEE education activities, 10% of an FTE should be allocated within their own budget to support this.

The Training group in XSEDE's CEE Workforce Development area delivers training in a variety of formats, including in-person, webinars, multi-site hands-on workshops, and online, asynchronous tutorials. We develop learning assessments in the form of badges, conduct peer reviews of XSEDE training resources, help users to find the appropriate materials for their needs, and coordinate with training leads in other organizations to avoid duplication of effort. In the context of collaborations, the XSEDE Training group can:

  1. Offer training to the wider community on a broad array of computing topics, in a variety of formats (which often applies to most high-end compute platforms),

  2. Facilitate workshop listing and registration on the XSEDE portal, when the event is open to the wider community,

  3. Provide use of training accounts, when appropriate,

  4. Facilitate access to collaborators' training materials by incorporating them into XSEDE's training material listings, and

  5. Develop introductory resource-specific materials.

In support of this effort, collaborators should allocate within their budget 25% of an FTE of their own staff to serve as the liaison with and participant in XSEDE's training team, ensuring that training activities are well tailored to the collaborator's architecture and proposed activities.

The Broadening Participation (and Student Programs) group in XSEDE works to engage underrepresented communities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), particularly focusing on advanced computing skills. The group hosts a variety of programs, including on-site workshops at minority serving institutions, the annual Advanced Computing for Social Change Challenge, outreach efforts to engage underrepresented communities by attending conferences including SACNAS, National HBCU Week, K-16 Educational Justice, Grace Hopper Celebration of Women, CAHSI, Emerging Researchers National Conference, and Understanding Interventions. In the context of collaborations, the XSEDE Broadening Participation and Student Programs group can:

  1. Collaborate to offer training workshops at minority serving and teaching institutions,

  2. Facilitate connections to a large group of contacts at minority serving institutions,

  3. Provide best practices developed within XSEDE for effective outreach to underrepresented communities, and

  4. Collaborate on additional Advanced Computing for Social Change programming and similar challenges.

In support of this effort, collaborators should allocate within their budget 25% of an FTE to serve as the liaison with and participant in XSEDE's Broadening Participation group and participate in Broadening Participation and/or Diversity Forum calls where the broadening participation activities are coordinated. This level of support will ensure that collaborators are actively engaged in all CEE Broadening Participation activities and will ensure that new activities are developed in collaboration with collaborators.

The Campus Champions (CC) program, part of the XSEDE Campus Engagement program, works with research computing facilitators and other CI professionals at institutions nationwide, developing a community of practice among, so far, over 500 professionals at over 260 institutions, in every US state (plus 3 territories). In the context of collaborations, the CC leadership will work closely with collaborators and the CCs, to:

  1. Help CCs to recognize computing-intensive and data-intensive investigations at their home institutions that would be appropriate for their collaboration;

  2. Train CCs whose institutions have investigations appropriate for collaborators on the basics of using that resource;

  3. Provide such CCs with startup allocations to help their local researchers who have such investigations to get onto the system and port their code to it for testing and benchmarking purposes; and

  4. Help such local researchers to craft compelling resource allocation collaborations. In support of this effort, collaborators should allocate within their budget at least 25% of an FTE, to serve as the liaison with, and trainer of, these CCs.

Extended Collaborative Support Services (ECSS)

XSEDE provides in depth (up to 1 year) collaborations between researchers and ECSS consultants, subject to peer review and capacity of the ECSS consultants. ECSS staff have a wide range of skills, from optimizing code to integrating XSEDE resources into science gateways to delivering training and working with new communities to enhance their use of advanced computing resources and services. ECSS staff require accounts and training, as early as possible, on all systems where support is offered. ECSS support is available to all researchers with allocations obtained via the XSEDE XRAC process. This would also be true of collaborator systems for any allocations that are made through the XRAC.

For collaboration teams wishing to utilize ECSS support for allocations made outside the XRAC process, additional ECSS staff can be conscripted at the cost of $250k/FTE/year. In general, staff devote 25% time per year to an ECSS project. The collaboration team would work with ECSS management on staff assignments.

Resource Allocation Services

XSEDE's Resource Allocation Service (RAS) supports a range of mature and efficient services for supporting the management of research computing resources. Opportunities for collaborations include participating in the XSEDE-managed allocations processes and NSF-approved policies for Startup, Education, and Research projects; accounting processes for tracking usage by users against allocations; andallowing resource access via XSEDE's Single Sign-On Hub. Modifications to existing allocations, accounting, and identity management policies, procedures and capabilities can be explored through defined processes.

When integrating resources and services via the XSEDE-managed allocations, accounting and account management processes, that integration comes at no cost to the collaborator, with the exception of any substantive changes necessary to the current process and procedures to accommodate any specific needs. In this latter case (anticipated to be unusual), some additional staffing support from the collaborator will be necessary to support those needs in the process.

RAS also supports the XSEDE Resource Allocation Service (XRAS) as a hosted service that can provide allocation request submission, review, and administration capabilities for independent allocation processes. Collaborators can make use of the XRAS service for their needs at a cost of $10,000 per year (inflated at a rate of 2.75% annually) for basic XRAS support. This is for clients that can work with the existing XRAS implementation and do not have additional features or customization necessary. If there are features that do not currently exist in XRAS, XSEDE staff will need to work with the collaborator to determine the scope of work and develop a separate contract for this development effort.

Infrastructure Services and Integration Support

XSEDE installs, connects, maintains, secures, and evolves an integrated cyberinfrastructure that incorporates a wide range of digital capabilities to support national scientific, engineering, and scholarly research efforts. Infrastructure and enterprise services are provided by XSEDE Operations, which focuses on cybersecurity, networking and data transfer, enterprise services, and providing an operations center for prompt frontline user support and initial issue ticket management.

As noted below in the XSEDE Federation and the Service Providers Forum section, when a Service Provider participates in XSEDE, the Service Provider can coordinate, request, and/or provide resources and/or services from and/or to XSEDE. The resources and/or services can be both traditional or new, novel, and innovative resources and/or services. XSEDE is making available to collaborators services which they may leverage to support their resources and/or services. These include:

XSEDE Operations Center (XOC) and Service Request/Ticket System (RT): XSEDE operates a 24x7 XOC that provides front line user assistance. This provides timely and accurate assistance to the XSEDE community for a wide variety of user issues, and continuously monitors and provides front line troubleshooting for XSEDE user-facing systems and services. XSEDE also operates a service request/ticket system based on RT (also known as Request Tracker from Best Practical Solutions), where user and staff issues can be routed as service request tickets. Issues can be submitted and an associated ticket created via the XSEDE website, via email to help@xsede.org, or by calling the XOC and having the operations staff enter the issue into XSEDE's RT. This gives the capability to track issues to resolution and keep all the information about the progress towards issue resolution. A collaborator can leverage this capability to provide frontline/helpdesk services to support their users, regardless of how they are allocated, for $200k/year (escalated at 2.75% annually). This includes both staffing support and support for the RT system. If the collaborator opts to allocate 10% or more of their resource via the XRAC (and thus also join the SP Forum), this will be offered at a lower cost of $150k/year (escalated at 2.75% annually). Some Service Providers also use RT locally, and there is an available capability to route tickets between RT systems.

XSEDEnet: XSEDEnet is the private point-to-point network provided by Internet2's Advanced Layer 2 Services (AL2S) platform. This network allows high performance and integrated connectivity between XSEDE Service Providers. Service Providers of all levels participate in XSEDEnet, usually using the Internet2 AL2S that most universities and research centers already have access to with their regional Internet service providers. If the collaborator's regional internet service provider already includes Internet2's AL2S as part of their services, this service will likely be free except for the local networking devices that are required to connect to a regional provider. If AL2S is not provided free to the collaborator, contact Internet2 to determine the costs associated with obtaining AL2S services from Internet2.

XSEDE.org domain: XSEDE operates and maintains the xsede.org domain, and any Level 1 Service Provider (see below) can participate in the domain. Usually XSEDE-allocated Service Providers have access to {site}.xsede.org to list resources associated with XSEDE in the domain space. The {site}.xsede.org domain can even be delegated to the site's local networking group to maintain the DNS space. This service is available to all Levels of Service Providers. The XSEDE Data Transfer Services group operates, manages, and coordinates the xsede.org domain and can delegate DNS zones as they deem appropriate. Typically, tightly integrated Service Providers (Level 1 Service Providers) are allowed to manage their own DNS zones in the xsede.org space.

XSEDE Security Infrastructure: Security is an important area to closely coordinate with XSEDE, especially for Level 1 and Level 2 allocated Service Providers. Incidents have been minimal in the last seven years, but as Service Providers are tightly integrated with XSEDE, the risk exists that an account compromise at one Service Provider could lead to the spread of the compromise to another XSEDE-participating site. XSEDE has multiple authentication services that SP Forum members can leverage, such as XSEDE's Kerberos, Certificate Authority (providing certificate credentials), CILogon, OAuth, and Duo two factor authentication. Also, XSEDE's cybersecurity team has access to the Qualys security scanning tool paid for by XSEDE for scanning XSEDE resources, which can include resources provided by SP Forum members. This service is used to scan all XSEDE Enterprise Services, wherever they are hosted, and is provided to Service Providers to scan canonical images of XSEDE- or PRAC-allocated resources. For example, Service Providers with allocations through XRAC could request that one login node, a DTN, and a publicly accessible compute node is scanned regularly, though XSEDE would not be able to scan all compute nodes or any private hosts. Collaborators who wish to take advantage of this as member of the SP Forum should plan to budget 5% FTE of effort on their security team to support these scans. Also, XSEDE Operations Cybersecurity coordinates incident response across XSEDE and its SP Forum Service Provider partners. A security incident becomes an XSEDE security incident when the incident spreads across multiple SP Forum Service Provider resources or if XSEDE enterprise services are somehow impacted. XSEDE security incident coordination is provided free to SP Forum members by XSEDE.

Single Single-On Hub: XSEDE's Single Sign-On (SSO) login hub, login.xsede.org, is a single point-of-entry to the XSEDE cyberinfrastructure. Upon logging into the hub with an XSEDE User Portal (XUP) username, password, and Duo two-factor authentication, a 12 hour proxy certificate is automatically generated for a user, allowing the user to access XSEDE resources via GSISSH for the duration of the proxy. GSISSH is further enhanced to have shortcuts to XSEDE compute resources where one can login without the need for the resource-specific username and password. The XSEDE SSO hub accepts standard SSH incoming connections and does not allow use of SSH keys. Collaborators can have their users set up to use the XSEDE SSO hub free of charge, as long as the collaborator becomes a member of the SP Forum, those users have XSEDE User Portal accounts, and the collaborator sets up the appropriate capabilities on their resource integrated with XSEDE to facilitate SSO access. This involves approximately 40-80 hours of staff time to work with XSEDE to establish initial integration depending on the XSEDE Service Provider integration level. If the collaborator is an unallocated (via the XRAC) Level 2 or Level 3 SP, there will be one-time, incremental cost of $10,000 to XSEDE that they must bear to integrate with XSEDE and implement this capability.

Coordination meetings: XSEDE has a number of integration and community information meetings. These include the biweekly SP Forum meeting, the XSEDE Campus Champions meeting, the Service Provider Software monthly meetings, the weekly XSEDE Service Provider cybersecurity coordination meetings, the as-needed cybersecurity incident response meetings, the monthly XRAS account management meetings, meetings for participation with XCI (XSEDE Cyberinfrastructure Integration team) in defining and developing the future cyberinfrastructure, and the XSEDEnet participants' meeting. Fully integrated Service Providers have approximately 12 hours of meetings a month for participation as a Level 1 allocated resources in XSEDE. Level 2 and Level 3 participants will have lower participation costs per month.

Cyberinfrastructure Integration

Community driven software requirements: Building researcher, software provider, and infrastructure operator consensus about software needs is challenging. How can users, software providers, and operators work together to reach consensus? How can agreed needs be documented? How can we ensure that delivered software actually addresses the needs? How do one group's needs compare to other group's needs? How can needs be prioritized? XSEDE can help researchers/research communities, infrastructure software providers, and infrastructure operators to quickly reach a shared consensus on software related needs is areas like allocations, account management, security, remote login, batch computing, data capabilities, cloud services, infrastructure description and discovery, and infrastructure integration. This shared understanding is achieved through a transparent and lightweight engineering process with public tools and information resources. XSEDE provided Research Software Portal tools are available to the community to transparently document needs, priorities, and plans to deliver enabling software solutions and to execute software delivery activities efficiently and with stakeholder participation. Using these processes and tools, users, software and software -based service providers, and infrastructure operators can achieve public transparency from driving use cases through production capabilities.

If a collaborator chooses to collaborate with XSEDE in this area, it could provide its user, staff, and the software provider community with a consistent public understanding of the collaborator's important use cases and which ones are shared between the collaborator, XSEDE, and campuses. This would result in the ability to leverage common software and software -based services or provide interoperability across these infrastructures. Building this shared understanding of driving use cases would require approximately 1 person-month of collaborator effort in the collaborator's personnel budget, spread out over several months. There would be no XSEDE effort that would require support from the collaborator.

Shared or interoperable software and software-based services: As noted above, some software capabilities are generally well understood and have been listed as explicit offerings from XSEDE to collaborators. Building on a shared understanding of the driving use cases, the collaborators can achieve greater interoperability and further enable users to leverage all their available distributed infrastructure, including personal systems, local/campus resources, XSEDE resources, and the collaborator resource. The effort required for collaborators and XSEDE to share software solutions or implement interoperable solutions will depend on those use cases and available implementations and cannot be predicted. Whether a collaborator is interested in sharing software or services with XSEDE, or wishes to be interoperable with XSEDE and campus resources, they should appropriately plan staff time for the level of sharing or interoperability they desire.

 

Community integration: XSEDE provides additional resources for integrating resources within the local context through its Cyberinfrastructure Resource Integration (CRI) team.  CRI provides software toolkits that aid in the implementation of resources on campuses, documentation and training to aid in these activities, and site visits from team engineers to help with integration efforts.  To date (at the time of this writing) CRI has participated in six proposals with letters of support for on-site integration activities, installation of hardware resources, software, and training for local staff, including NSF MRI and CC* proposals, and is able to provide letters of collaboration for a range of projects integrating software on campuses.  These letters of support include arrangements for XSEDE field engineers to assist in architecture, planning, and integration of hardware as well as collaborative support for local systems staff.

 

The XSEDE Federation and the Service Providers Forum

XSEDE coordinates and integrates the national cyberinfrastructure funded by the NSF while also reaching out to coordinate, integrate, provide support services, and be as inclusive as possible with the broader community. The extended organization created by the amalgamation of the XSEDE program and other organizations with which XSEDE collaborates is referred to as the XSEDE Federation, which includes many autonomous Service Providers. The XSEDE Federation includes those providers and consumers of services which will meet, to varying degrees, the requirements of interfaces with XSEDE and also will engage in the effective and sustained interactions required to develop and evolve those interfaces.

When a resource or service participates in XSEDE, the provider can coordinate and request services from and/or provide them to XSEDE. Communications between XSEDE and Service Providers are managed via the XSEDE Service Providers (SP) Forum, a part of the broader XSEDE Federation including all of XSEDE's partners in various forms. Collaborators planning to work with XSEDE should also plan to become a member of the SP Forum. For more information, see Requesting Membership in the XSEDE Federation, the XSEDE Service Provider Software and Services Baseline, and the XSEDE Service Provider Checklist, which include more information on the Service Provider Levels and associated services available via XSEDE. More information regarding these options is outlined below.

Three Levels of Service Providers (SPs) are defined within the XSEDE Federation. Service Providers are classified as being at a specific "Level" by meeting a minimum set of conditions. These Levels reflect the degree of coordination/integration between the Service Provider and XSEDE. Level 1 Service Providers are the most tightly coupled with XSEDE. Level 2 and Level 3 Service Providers are more loosely coupled with XSEDE.

Participating in XSEDE as a Level 1 Service Provider has an estimated start up effort of approximately 320 hours for meetings, software installation and configuration, and integration activities and then an annual maintenance and troubleshooting effort of approximately 160 hours. Participating in XSEDE as a Level 2 Service Provider at a moderate level of integration (installation and integration with many but not all of XSEDE software components and integration activities) has a start up effort of approximately 160 hours and an annual maintenance and troubleshooting effort of approximately 80 hours. See the Service Provider Checklist document for the full list of integration components for Level 1 and Level 2 Service Providers. Participating in XSEDE as a Level 3 Service Provider requires only filling out a Resource Description Repository (RDR) entry for the Service Provider resource and installation of the Information Services Publishing Framework (IPF) and has an estimated start up effort of 80 hours and an annual maintenance and troubleshooting estimate of 40 hours.