EPOC Resources for Campus Cyberinfrastructure (CC*)
About Campus Cyberinfrastructure (CC*)
The National Science Foundation’s Campus Cyberinfrastructure (CC*) program invests in coordinated campus-level networking and cyberinfrastructure improvements, innovation, integration, and engineering as driven by specific science, research, or educational requirements or use cases.
Across the five different program areas, EPOC can support proposers in several ways as they work on proposals and after project award. These include:
- The identification and description of research or educational drivers to support the requested/upgraded technology (part of all five CC* Areas)
- The definition of a complete network solution/architecture along with diagrams (part of CC* Areas 1, 2, 3, and 4)
- The definition of measurement and monitoring plans using the perfSONAR framework (part of CC* Areas 1, 2, and 4)
- The construction of a Campus Cyberinfrastructure plan (part of CC* Areas 1, 2, 3, and 4)
- Offering support to your project should it be awarded through a Letter of Collaboration (open to any proposal submission, any program, after discussion)
The EPOC team can be reached at email@example.com.
Slides and links to talks for EPOC’s support of the CC* program are available here.
We strongly recommend that all proposal submitters read the solicitation in detail to independently verify all proposal requirements. General assistance on grant writing should be available at your local institution. General information on standard components of NSF grants (budgets, letters of collaboration, bio sketches, etc.) are available in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG). When in doubt about specific grant requirements, we recommend contacting the relevant program officers listed in the solicitation.
Identification and description of research or educational drivers to support the requested/upgraded technology (part of all CC* Areas)
Use cases for science and education are required for all Areas of the CC* program. It is critical to understand the end-to-end drivers that support the technology’s needs in order to be successful in this program. The science drivers should come first, and the technology solutions should follow.
Most successful proposals include the following aspects:
- Building a successful team
- Finding research, science, or education needs at an institution, and showing an understanding the use cases, and how they map to the technology being requested
- Having Letters of Collaboration to document the team fully
When planning cyberinfrastructure (CI) implementations, the EPOC team strongly recommends building a team to understand and meet their needs:
- Ensuring that what you want to request/build will meet the needs of your end users. While a particular technical component, such as a DMZ, may be of strong interest to the IT team to build, it must be needed by the science drivers. For example, if the biggest pain point for the researchers is the need for additional compute resources, the proposal should not focus on a request for a DMZ.
- Keep in mind these proposals, and the work that follows, are meant to be collaborative efforts between researchers, educators, IT administration, and CI implementers. To be successful, it is important that each member have a say in the work that is defined and that the lines of communication are kept open.
- Understand that there is no perfect or optimal implementation, those only exist as theoretical or mathematical concepts in this space. It is critical to define an approach that meets the needs of a set of specific use cases, as opposed to one that is theoretically perfect.
- Start by listening to understand the user’s needs, as opposed to listening to reply with a solution. The first step must be to understand requirements fully.
- We strongly recommend proposers “Talk twice, implement once”. What this means in practice is gathering up use cases, designing infrastructure, estimates of how it will impact the use cases, and then verifying again with the users to make sure that what is envisioned will in fact address the pain points.
In general, we have often seen the people-issues and meeting research needs be overlooked in a rush to technology’s choices.
Finding the relevant use cases at an institution can be challenging for some IT groups. We’ve had luck in doing this by looking at:
- Who’s using the current resources
- Using internal network data to see where large flows on campus are going to and from
- Identifying large science projects through press releases on the institution news site or mentioned in the institution’s strategic plan
- Contacting the VP of Research or Office of Sponsored Research, who may have insight into larger projects on campus
- Who’s getting grant money?
- NSF awards can be searched at: https://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/advancedSearch.jsp
- NIH awards can be search at: https://report.nih.gov/award/
- Finding researchers with network tools
- EPOC supports the use of NetSage has data for 8+ US regional networks, with public data available at the institution level at: https://all.netsage.global/grafana/d/QfzDJKhik/flow-data-per-organization?orgId=2
EPOC also supports the use of Campus Deep Dives for a site to better understand their internal science drivers. This is a roughly 6 month process that uses a structured conversation around case studies to analyze the CI needs more broadly. Additional information on Campus Deep Dives is available at: https://epoc.global/media/filer_public/02/82/02822c5b-06ab-4743-a319-acda71c7290b/application-deep-dive-description-1.pdf
Letters of Collaboration are supplementary documents that are part of NSF grant proposals to detail the full team and collaborators for a project. The NSF PAPPG guidelines for Letters of Collaboration list a recommended format, but this is NOT required for the CC* program, which gives proposers the opportunity to add details about the nature of the collaboration. Each letter MUST include some form of collaboration – they cannot simply say a project is a good project, there must be interaction at some level included. If you would like a Letter of Collaboration with the EPOC project, guidelines are here: https://epoc.global/proposal-collaborations/
Before you submit the proposal, EPOC can help you use NetSage to identify your users sharing data between institutions. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Complete network solution/architecture along with diagrams (part of Areas 1, 2, 3, and 4)
One of the principles of the CC* solicitation is to include a full technical solution including diagrams (except for the planning grant category), and information about how it will support modern scientific or education use cases in context. The important components for this activity include:
- Science DMZs
- Data Mobility via Data Transfer Nodes (DTN)s and Portals
- Measurement and Monitoring Frameworks
In addition, the EPOC team can offer advice on preliminary designs and architectures, both during proposal development and upon award. Please contact us at email@example.com.
The Science DMZ is a portion of the network, built at or near an institution’s local network perimeter that enables more efficient data transfers for high-performance research applications through tuning of the equipment, configuration, and security policies, as opposed to general-purpose business systems or “enterprise” efficiencies.
- General DMZ informational: https://fasterdata.es.net/science-dmz/
- Science DMZ Network Components: https://fasterdata.es.net/science-dmz/science-dmz-network-components/
- Security and the Science DMZ: https://fasterdata.es.net/science-dmz/science-dmz-security/
For additional information, or to discuss your proposed architecture, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Data mobility, the ability to predictably and efficiently move scientific data between experimental sources, processing facilities, long term storage, and collaborators, is a common use case that transcends the boundaries of research disciplines. This is generally supported through two components, the system facing Data Transfer Node (DTN) and the user facing Data Portal.
- Background on Data Mobility: https://fasterdata.es.net/performance-testing/2019-2020-data-mobility-workshop-and-exhibition/
- Data Transfer Nodes: https://fasterdata.es.net/science-dmz/DTN/
- Why you don’t need 100G DTN: I think I need a 100G DTN
- Prototype Portal Demonstration: https://mrdp.es.net/
- Portal documentation/build draft: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1N-81nlo5NbETXMnJt-zGMXro9e0Yjpz4yCvOpvvX0dE/edit#heading=h.uk4cgrq1jngn
For additional information, please email email@example.com.
A strong Measurement and Monitoring Framework can help implementers know what performance to expect from data transfers and to find bottlenecks that might occur in the network, the disk, or the CPU. The 2020 CC* solicitation specifically calls out the use of perfSONAR as part of this implementation.
- perfSONAR basics: https://www.perfsonar.net/
- perfSONAR deployment: https://www.perfsonar.net/deployment_download.html
For additional information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Campus CyberInfrastructure plan (part of Areas 1, 2, 3, and 4)
All proposals submitted to the CC* program, with the exception of area (5), must include a Campus CI plan within which the proposed CI improvements are conceived, designed, and implemented in the context of a coherent campus-wide strategy and approach to CI that is integrated horizontally intra-campus and vertically with regional and national CI investments and best practices. This Campus CI plan must be included as a Supplementary Document and is limited to no more than 5 pages.
There is no standard definition of what is included in a Campus CI plan, however, an archive of plans submitted in previous proposals is available at:
https://fasterdata.es.net/campusCIplanning/. In addition, the EPOC team is available to review and comment on draft Campus CI plans, please email email@example.com.
CARCC Emerging Centers presentation – December 16, 2020
Quilt presentation – December 15, 2020