User Services and Support Gauss Centre for Supercomputing e.V.

USER SERVICES AND SUPPORT

GCS boosts science and research by offering a state of the art supercomputing and networking infrastructure, a comprehensive suite of user services and support, as well as world-class HPC training to academia and industry.

User Services and Support

By providing users with both HPC support specialists as well as experts in a variety of scientific domains, GCS offers users a first-class collaborative support environment. GCS is constantly expanding its support for researchers on GCS resources. Having a liaison available to help solve computing challenges in the researchers’ specific areas of study allows GCS users to focus on scientific discovery instead of dealing with technical challenges stemming from the complexity of modern HPC architectures and their respective user environments.

Building on well-established traditional user support services, GCS developed a new HPC application support structure that offers a series of several new HPC support levels such as mentoring—a new service available to any user with a large-scale project. Services are offered at 4 different levels:

  • Support Level 1: The service desk is the most important component of this level. It acts as an entry point for messages from the users. Both the service desk and user administration staff employ the ticket system as the main tool to process incidents or service requests. This level provides and maintains the basic functionalities and services of the HPC systems available for the user.
     
  • Support Level 2: Based on the complexity of a user’s problem, some incidents or service requests might be escalated to level 2. If GCS staff members notice a user’s code consistently running inefficiently,  they may proactively initiate support actions. In this case, staff will address not only scaling but also node-level performance and I/O. The close collaboration of HPC experts (cross-sectional teams with extensive knowledge in applications, workflows, parallelization, and batch systems, among others) and experts from various scientific fields (domain-specific labs, representing computational fluid dynamics, astrophysics, or geosciences, among others) is an efficient strategy for solving problems or improving user applications by employing traditional methods for code analysis and optimization..
     
  • Support Level 3: Extending the scope of support level 2, cross-sectional teams and domain-specific labs provide detailed support in restructuring and optimizing user codes. Depending on a user’s problem case and use case, new approaches might have to be developed. The close collaboration of both HPC experts and users over a period of up to one year is essential for success.
     
  • Support Level 4: Within the scope of joint research projects, the priority of support level 4 is to establish long-term collaborations among the GCS centres, academia, and researchers. All partners combine their respective expertise toward developing new algorithms, HPC applications, or workflows. Users and researchers will be able to apply these new approaches to  more efficiently solve scientific problems..
     
  • Mentoring concept: Mentoring addresses the needs of both users and the GCS centres. It serves as a complementary service to the support offered at levels 2 and 3. Every large-scale project is assigned a mentor who acts as a permanent point of contact and has a detailed understanding of the user’s project, its history, and resource consumption, as well as the project’s associated challenges. The mentor coordinates communication between users and support staff. The user profits from a more efficient and personalized support structure for his or her project while GCS centres benefit from more efficient use of valuable HPC resources.

Education and training
GCS provides first-class training opportunities for the national and European HPC communities. More than 50 highly qualified scientists acting as trainers host over 60 courses (or 150 course days) per year, which positions GCS as one of the leading HPC training institutions in all of Europe. The complete overview of GCS training courses and workshops can be found here.