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The Computing and Data Access Working Group addresses topics related to making computing and user data management at all levels more effective for scientists and improving both onsite and remote computing and data access. Current concerns include ensuring robust cyber security in a manner that improves, rather than impedes, multiple facility access and data sharing, user agreements, proprietary vs. non-proprietary proposals, reviewing mixed facility proposals, data security, risk assessment, instrument tracking, and scheduling.
Full Range of Scope (please see below participants table for more details).
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Co-chairs - Tom Throwe (BNL), David Crowley (EMSL) , David Skinner (LBNL)
Steering Committee Liaison - Brant Johnson, (BNL)
Full Range of Scope:
Computers are now often the main interface by which scientists work and, in many cases, too little attention has been given to what it takes ensure that those interfaces are effective. From use of a single laptop or work station to the use of massively parallel computing resources there is a need to examine how to make computing tools effective and efficient for all researchers.
We stretch the borders of how information technology, simulation science, data-centric computing, and visualization can accelerate research. The Working Group listens to scientist users of computers and computing facilities and helps turn feedback, suggestions, and ideas into actionable agendas on the national level. We're interested in what scientists need from computing, what works, what doesn't and what's coming next. You are encouraged to join in the discussion and help shape the future of computers in science.
At the 2011 NUFO Annual User Meeting, the topic of improving access to computing resources was addressed. A consensus formed that computers that are difficult to access and hard to use are less valuable tools for research and that the goal of our working group should be "Reliable and secure access to computing resources at laboratories and user facilities with reasonable security measures that mitigate risk and minimize delays or interruptions using a risk-based approach (DOE order 205.1B)."
The significance of DOE order 205.1B (https://www.directives.doe.gov/directives/current-directives/205.1-BOrder-b/view) is that it replaces six previous DOE orders and, more importantly, "emphasizes risk management rather than a systems-level 'controls compliance' approach" and is intended to be implemented "in a manner that improves, rather than impedes." The changes implied by this new DOE order are encouraging, but meanwhile, national laboratories have suffered serious cyber attacks recently, and the response to that may increase the challenges for remote computer access by users.
Toward the same end, the Working Group is promoting standards for web-based science gateways that make computing resources useful in ways beyond command line access. By making supercomputers and large data sets available through easy to use websites we can extend to breadth and impact of computational science done at national facilities. Currently in many science teams only a subset of the researchers has the computer skills needed to drive their simulations or data analytics. We hope to bring these resources to more scientists by making web based science gateways with well thought out focus on usability, end-user workflow, and human-computer interaction.
Future needs in user data management include data integration of users, instruments, costs and schedules, establishing common user data definitions and counting of users between cooperating facilities, enabling multiple facility access to user/proposal/instrument data, commonality of user agreements, changing the focus from databases to data management systems, integrating audit able full cost recovery data acquisition and display, and responding to calls to provide open access to all non-proprietary results of tax-payer funded research.