As part of a drive to encourage collaborative research and innovation within our distributed user community, HPC Wales runs a regular pan Wales, project wide User Group meeting via a multisite video conference. The last event took place in October 2014.
The agenda evolves around user feedback but typically includes general service updates, an overview of new capabilities and solutions, user feedback and presentations, software and hardware overviews from vendors and a Q&A session.
Recent feedback highlighted a need to augment the general User Group format with regular Special Interest Groups (SIGs) focused on a number of priority areas; ‘Big Data’, energy and environment, materials chemistry and life sciences were identified, in addition to an accelerator based SIG e.g., GP-GPU and Intel Phi, and a Group focused on the Quantum Espresso materials modelling code.
A panel of users, led by Chris Headleand of Bangor University, has been tasked with driving these groups from the end-user perspective to ensure they benefit the user community as a whole.
The next general User Group is planned for early April 2015. To further build our understanding of the impact of services to date and how these might be improved, we distributed a customer satisfaction survey in October 2014. With a satisfactory level of response, the following points emerged:
• Users appear to be largely satisfied with the portfolio of HPC Wales service offerings.
• The need for initial and on-going support of projects was highlighted, with HPC Wales’ support services appearing to meet, and in many cases exceed, user expectations.
• The technology appeared to be addressing requirements in terms of data storage, number of available processors and memory capacity, although almost 40% of respondents suggested a growing requirement to use >256 Cores.
• A fast turnaround of medium sized jobs was the highest rated priority amongst responders.
• Respondents appeared to value much of the HPC Wales documentation suite and had a preference for face to face and/ or blended learning methods over distance learning.
Additional software licenses and support in combatting job scheduler issues are being looked into to reduce the job turnaround challenges faced by users.
The variance in response to certain questions indicated the wide range of expertise amongst the user community, highlighting the need for courses and workshops targeted at different levels of competence.
It was very encouraging to see the improvement in respondents’ understanding of HPC following their engagement with HPC Wales, which further emphasises the impact HPC Wales is having on the Welsh knowledge economy.