Recommendation 5: In support of research, UITS should provide broad support for basic collaboration technologies and begin implementing more advanced technologies. UITS should provide advanced data storage and management services to researchers. The University should continue its commitment to high performance computing and computation, so as to contribute to and benefit from initiatives to develop a national computational grid.
Action 27. UITS should launch an aggressive program to systematically evaluate and deploy across the University state-of-the-art tools and infrastructure that can support collaboration within the University, nationally and globally.
Action 28. UITS should explore and deploy advanced and experimental collaborative technologies within the University's production information technology environment, first as prototypes and then if successful, more broadly.
The Telecommunications Division is currently evaluating the suitability of two desktop videoconferencing systems from Polycom and VCON. The systems are in limited pilot deployment. A broader pilot deployment will be undertaken in early February 2001 upon implementation of the Accord multipoint control unit (MCU). (See Actions 48, 49, 50, 52 for details.)
A test of the Lotus SameTime application sharing server is currently in progress. A broad deployment of application sharing environments will be completed with the Virtual Indiana Classroom (VIC) equipment upgrades in mid-Spring 2001.
A model for a distance learning and collaboration tool is being developed that incorporates video streaming, application sharing, and chat into an integrated desktop environment. Development is conducted in cooperation with the IUPUI Center for Teaching and Learning's CyberLab staff, who also developed the ClassCast system.
In response to requests from the Offices of Student Financial Aid and Admissions, a structured chat tool was developed in order to conduct Web-based, interactive counseling and recruiting chat sessions with students. This tool will become one of many components that can be assembled to create custom video, applications-sharing, and chat environments.
The Research and Academic Computing (RAC) Division is implementing a Web-based data exchange server to allow researchers to publish data on the Web, collect data via the Web, and create facilities for straightforward, "on-the-fly" report generation. The level of privacy and sharing of such data remains under the researcher's control allowing data to be published on the Web at large or shared privately within a research group.
The Advanced Visualization Lab (AVL) staff performed intra- and inter-campus benchmarking on SGI's OpenGL VizServer product. This software framework permits the delivery of compressed images of 3D datasets over 100Mbps connections at interactive rates, thereby allowing high-end graphics hardware to be leveraged from desktop systems.
The AVL has established a virtual distributed lab between its staff and facilities at IUB and IUPUI. Using commodity PCs and Mbone tools, the labs are linked by continuous audio and video feeds and on-demand application sharing and collaborative white-boards. This initiative has enhanced communication among geographically disparate staff members and has enabled the leveraging of specialized staff skills between campuses.
In conjunction with members of the Academic Classroom Committee, the AVL is prototyping a range of collaborative tools to permit the sharing of 3D models of technology classrooms between campuses. The collaborative technologies range from asynchronous, Web-based viewing to real-time, persistent, synchronous viewing in immersive virtual environments.
The AVL continued its involvement in projects that are prototyping new collaborative technologies through the HPNAP program, including the Virtual Concert, Bio-Medical Tele-Visualization, Collaborative Constrained Navigation, and Scalable Immersive Virtual Environments. In addition, the AVL supported the deployment and demonstration of a collaborative VR art piece between participants in Bloomington and Yokohama, Japan, for iGrid 2000, and between Bloomington and Dallas for Supercomputing2000.
Action 29. In order to maintain its position of leadership in the constantly changing field of high performance computing, the University should plan to continuously upgrade and replace its high-performance computing facilities to keep them at a level that satisfies the increasing demand for computational power.
Action 31. The University should plan to evolve its high performance computing and communications infrastructure so it has the features to be compatible with and can participate in the emerging national computational grid.
Sun Microsystems E10000
Indiana University acquired a 64-processor Sun Microsystems E10000 in the first quarter of 2000. This system replaced IU's 64-processor SGI Origin 2000. As of June 2000, the Sun E10000 was included on the list of the world's 500 most powerful supercomputers (www.top500.org). This system is widely regarded as the best shared-memory supercomputer on today's market. The switch from the SGI to Sun involved significant effort by IU researchers, a process greatly facilitated by the High Performance Computing Support Team. As IU researchers have adapted to the new environment, use of the Sun E10000 has climbed, and in September the number of gigaflop hours of use exceeded the peak use of the Origin 2000.
IU and Sun have also created a strategic research alliance, with IU being designated a Sun Microsystems "Center of Excellence" for high performance computing.
IBM RS/6000 SP
IU's RS/6000 SP, the mainstay of the University's high performance computing environment and one of the most powerful computers in the Midwest, is used heavily, running at 70-80% (or more) of capacity. This computer is widely regarded as the best distributed-memory supercomputer on today's market.
IU's research relationship with IBM continues to flourish. IU and IBM researchers are active in collaborative research projects. This strategic relationship is the basis for IU's continued success in receiving Shared University Research (SUR) grants from IBM. In December 2000, IU was awarded an IBM SUR grant in the form of an IBM RS/6000 SP frame and nodes valued at $1 million. This is the third consecutive year in which IU has received a SUR Grant valued at $1 million or more. Coupled with additional funding by the OVPIT, the upgraded RS/6000 SP will consist of two frames of Winterhawk2 nodes in Bloomington and one frame of Nighthawk2 nodes in Indianapolis, tied together via IU's intercampus fiber. The total theoretical processing power of the entire system will be approximately 300 gigaflops. This forms the first critical step in the creation of a massive distributed system of storage and computation, called the Indiana TeraCloud.
The recent Indiana Genomics Initiative (INGEN) includes significant funding for IT infrastructure and support. Through use of additional SUR grants and University and INGEN funds, UITS expects to expand the Indiana TeraCloud to a massively distributed system of one teraflop of processing capacity. This system will be one of the first teraflop-scale systems at any university. Its unique design will facilitate distributed computing between the Indianapolis and Bloomington campuses, while permitting periodic dedication of the entire system to solving some of the largest computational challenges facing researchers today, such as solving the 3D structure of proteins.
High Performance Parallel PC Cluster
IU's Parallel PC Cluster is operating at or near its maximum theoretical capacity, approaching 95% capacity. This system provides cost-effective computation suitable for many types of parallel programs. It has been heavily used by IU biologists doing work in bioinformatics, particularly computational phylogenetics. A next step for UITS in the use of commodity components for parallel computing is to begin using computers in IU's Student Technology Centers (when they are not in use by students) for parallel computing. IU is well recognized for its intellectual leadership in the use of PC clusters, and recently a UITS expert in this area organized a mini-symposium on PC clusters at the inaugural Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics Conference on Computational Science and Engineering; the UITS contribution to this mini-symposium was a paper analyzing the performance of PC clusters running under Windows/NT versus those running under Linux.
IU continues to be very active in grid computing. IU and UITS researchers are a part of the group that was awarded a major National Science Foundation grant to create a computational grid for high energy physics, called GriPhyN (Grid Physics Network). UITS experts are also active in several areas of grid computing and distributed computing. A senior member of the UITS Research and Technical Services group co-authored a paper on job management systems with experts from Sun Microsystems. IU is planning a major new initiative in grid computing based on the use of IBM RS/6000 SP technology.
Use of High Performance Computing
One of the critical success factors for UITS and IU in high performance computing (HPC) is promoting the adoption of this technology across a broad spectrum of disciplines. The following accomplishments were particularly notable during 2000:
The HPC Support Team has engaged in a concerted effort to work with IU research groups that have the largest codes (in terms of size or computational resources consumed), to learn how the codes operate, and to work with the researchers to optimize their code. Thus UITS is better able to provide help at critical times in research projects, and, as the codes become more efficient, researchers receive more benefit from IU's HPC systems.
Research@Indiana, a collaborative display at Supercomputing2000, involving IU, Notre Dame, and Purdue, was a unique opportunity to showcase high performance computing in Indiana. IU provided exhibit leadership and booth infrastructure, and coordinated conference attendance and demonstrations by more than 50 collaborators from the three universities. Research@Indiana featured live, collaborative demonstrations and innovative virtual poster sessions, which provided snapshots of dozens of research projects; IU scientists and researchers presented 11 demonstrations and dozens virtual poster sessions. This effort represented the first time the major research universities of any state have joined forces to present a research exhibit at the annual IEEE/ACM Supercomputing conference, the largest international conference in this area. Further information about the exhibit, including video of demonstrations, is available at www.indiana.edu/~rindiana/.
Action 30. The University needs to provide facilities and support for computationally and data-intensive research, for non-traditional areas such as the arts and humanities, as well as for the more traditional areas of scientific computation.
Action 33. The University through UITS should provide support for a wider range of research software including database systems, text-based and text-markup tools, scientific text processing systems, and software for statistical analysis. UITS should investigate the possibilities for enterprise-wide agreements for software acquisitions similar to the Microsoft Enterprise License Agreement.
UITS has substantially improved support for student, faculty, and staff users of advanced computing systems at IUPUI. The Unix Workstation Support Group has enhanced the support provided to IUPUI and to regional campuses by placing a second full-time Unix support specialist on the IUPUI campus.
In recognition of the importance of new and emerging areas of computationally intensive software applications, UITS has allocated a 0.5 full-time equivalent for a Ph.D. biologist to support bioinformatics software. Bioinformatics software is now provided on IU's central research systems. IU and UITS researchers have presented the results of some of their bioinformatics software development at national and international conferences.
Research Software Support
UITS is implementing a new server to support computationally intensive research applications, providing access to specialized applications for statistical and data analyses. This resource enhances access to highly specialized software and provides economies of scale for the University.
The Research and Academic Computing Division continues to license and distribute many software products. StarOffice, Island Software, and Applixware personal productivity software enhance the productivity of researchers whose primary workstations run the Unix operating system.
Site licensing of research software continues to be a great success. The Enterprise License Agreement for the statistical software package SPSS has been very popular. More than 3,500 copies of SPSS have been distributed to students, faculty, and staff on all IU campuses, and the agreement was recently expanded to include the Macintosh version. Overall, site licenses save the University well in excess of $100,000 annually, as compared to actual past expenditures. Site licensing efforts also make possible a level of software utilization that would otherwise be impossible. Combined, the value of site-licensed, research software (if purchased at single-copy academic list prices) distributed during the past year is in excess of $5 million. The UITS Center for Statistical & Mathematical Computing has negotiated inclusion of all IU campuses in software licensing agreements wherever possible, expanding access to software (such as SPSS and Matlab), and leveraging IU's buying power to the greatest benefit for the regional campuses.
UITS is also promoting the use of free, open-source software. Linuxfest has been established as an annual event to promote the use of Linux, the freeware Unix variant, and open-source software applications that run under the Linux operating system. Linuxfest 2000 featured several well-attended talks by industry representatives and facilitated use of Linux among students.
Action 32. The University should evaluate and acquire high-capacity storage systems, capable of managing very large data volumes from research instruments, remote sensors, and other data gathering facilities.
Action 43. UITS should implement massive storage technology for storage of the University's institutional data, migrate tapes over time to the new environment, and integrate this technology with database management systems to support image, sound, and video data types.
In Spring 2000, an IBM 3494 tape library with 14 terabytes of available storage was installed at IUPUI, providing massive data storage local to IUPUI researchers. With this installation, IU became the first university to implement a remote High Performance Storage System (HPSS) data mover distributed over a wide-area network.
Use of the massive data storage services increased significantly in the past year. There are now over 400 users of the HPSS-based massive data storage system (MDSS), and more than 20 terabytes of storage in use (including mirror storage for selected datasets). As of year's end, there were 115 users of the recently implemented common file system (CFS) storage service, which is based on the Distributed Computing Environment Distributed File System (DCE DFS). Top users of the HPSS and the distributed file system (DFS) data storage services are researchers from a variety of departments including Astronomy, Economics, Geology, Library and Information Science, Physics, Theater and Drama, and the IU Digital Library Program.
In the Fall 2000 semester, workshops on IU's CFS/MDSS installation were presented to faculty, graduate students, and departmental IT staff at IUB and IUPUI in an effort to extend use of the massive data storage system beyond its early adopters. These workshops were offered again on both campuses in the Spring 2001 semester.
Network file system (NFS) services are being replaced by the DCE DFS for user file systems accessed by high performance computing systems and other central computers at Wrubel Computing Center. The oldest hardware supporting NFS has been decommissioned and legacy services have been migrated to improved hardware. NFS continues to be supported, for example to provide home directory services on high performance computing systems. In addition, the Andrew File System (AFS) is now being supported as a production service for researchers involved in inter-institutional collaborations that rely on AFS for data exchange and communication.
Evaluations are ongoing to select a storage technology to replace the Netware-based Lockers at IUB and Bookbag storage services at IUPUI. In a joint project of the Teaching and Learning Information Technologies Division and the Research and Academic Computing Division, testing has been conducted on gateway solutions, as well as on desktop client software that can export DFS to Windows and Macintosh desktop computers.
Action 34. UITS should participate with faculty on major research initiatives involving information technology, where it is appropriate and of institutional advantage. Further, UITS should provide proactive encouragement and supportive services that create opportunities where faculty from diverse disciplines might come together on collaborative projects involving information technology.
UITS research partnerships with faculty at IUB and IUPUI continue to bear fruit. Noteworthy projects in FY 00-01 include:
IPCRES The Indiana Pervasive Computing Research Initiative Central to IPCRES, funded by a grant from the Lilly Endowment in 1999, is the establishment of six world-class research laboratories in key areas of technology that underpin the pervasive computing environment of the future. Since the grant award, IU has been involved in a search for six Distinguished Scientists researchers of the highest international standing to head each of the IPCRES Laboratories. Specific efforts to forward the research and development agenda include:
IPCRES and Economic Development in Indiana
The IPCRES economic development strategy is to stimulate new technology ventures within the State of Indiana and to assist in infusing technology, innovation and training into established Indiana business and industry. Over the course of the past year, Bill Stephan, IPCRES Economic Development Director, has been pursuing various partnerships and activities that will lay the groundwork for the IPCRES Laboratories to quickly impact Indiana's growing technology sector.
The IPCRES Education Program
The IPCRES Education Program, through the IU School of Informatics, continues to develop an Informatics curriculum and support structure for the delivery of that curriculum. The School of Informatics is working to proactively recruit Hoosier students and develop interactive relationships with industry.
IV. Teaching and Learning  |  Table of Contents  |  VI. Information Systems
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