Research Computing COVID-19 Preparedness

March 12, 2020 – April 10, 2020
Brown, Data Depot, Fortress, Gilbreth, Halstead, Rice, Scholar, Snyder, Workbench

On March 10, 2020 President Daniels and Provost Akridge announced that in-person instruction at Purdue will move to online to mitigate risks from the COVID-19 virus. This article will highlight the impact of this change to day-to-day life on campus on the use of our research computing facilities.

Usability of Research Computing Services by Purdue researchers will not be impacted during this time period. Even if research computing staff are not working on campus, our goal is to provide as close to normal levels of support during this time.

However, following are several considerations to keep in mind as you potentially access your research computing resources from places other than the Purdue campus.

Resources from the Purdue EVPRP

  • EVPRP Theresa Mayer has issued a memorandum and web resource on the impact of COVID-19 on the execution of research projects at Purdue, in general.
  • Sponsored Program Services has collected resources on Purdue and funding agency guidelines around COVID-19.

Remote access to resources

  • All users of research computing systems already use remote access tools (ssh, Thinlinc, OnDemand gateway, web browser) to remotely access computing resources from anywhere in the world. For example: https://www.rcac.purdue.edu/knowledge/brown/accounts/login
  • VPN is not required for ssh or Thinlinc access from off-campus
  • If you use graphical tools on clusters, we recommend the use of Thinlinc for GUI use from remote or high-latency internet connections
  • Basic support of research computing resources is already done through existing email/web support processes, and we plan for those to continue unmodified.
  • Access to cluster scratches or central data storage (Data Depot) from off-campus already requires VPN today: See https://www.rcac.purdue.edu/knowledge/depot/storage/transfer/cifs for documentation
  • As with on-campus access, we recommend the use of Globus for desktop or laptop access to Fortress archival storage.

Cybersecurity

Like classroom instruction, the most effective way to support computational science problems and develop new discoveries using computing is via face-to-face collaboration. However, with the social distancing in place, we recognize that

The largest impact will be to our advanced support offerings

  • Access to high-touch, face-to-face services like consulting engagements, trainings, coffee hour consulting, solution design, etc. will all be impacted.
  • Training sessions, if affected, will most likely need to be rescheduled
  • As a workaround for face-to-face engagements, RCAC staff will be available to researchers via video conference consulting, screen sharing, or chat tools for in-depth consulting. Further information on this will come soon
  • Ongoing work on research problems, grant proposals, etc. will continue to leverage cloud collaboration tools like Box or Google Docs.

Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have questions not addressed here about the impact of social distancing on your use of research computing facilities.

Originally posted: March 12, 2020  8:53am