Theme: Improve Research Competitiveness
Strategy: Deliver pre-positioned, scalable and integrated research computing services to enable “big data” driven research, enhance research collaborations and encourage faculty to explore new avenues of research and scholarship.
Research across most disciplines is becoming more collaborative and computing intensive, while facing increasing regulatory demands. The university’s ability to attract and retain an outstanding faculty engaged in leading edge research is determined in part by the quality of its research technology infrastructure and related support services. The IT plan will address current gaps in capacity and position the university to use its technology as a source of competitive advantage.
Future research computing services will be flexible, scalable and easily discoverable by faculty in any discipline. All faculty members will have access to a core set of research computing tools including on-demand server instances, managed storage, collaboration tools and commonly used research software. Research related services will be logically organized and presented to faculty through websites and cross-trained support staffs. The high performance computing cluster will continue to expand and provide a middle tier of support between in-lab computing and the national super-computer infrastructure. Research computing services will be pre-positioned, scalable on-demand and integrated between ITS and research centers.
In the next three years, the university will:
- Position capacity ahead of demand to maintain agility and seed interest and demand for the use of technology in research.
- Clearly communicate what type of university research services are available and successfully promote their adoption by faculty members.
- Increase research computing staff member engagement with faculty to help plan their technology needs during the development of research proposals.
- Increase faculty satisfaction with research computing services.
- Improve the efficiency of research administration and compliance processes.
- Address security risks appropriately for the sensitivity of research data.
To realize these objectives, the university should pursue the following initiatives:
- Develop an institutional knowledge base (e.g., robust faculty information system) to provide greater visibility into faculty interests, expertise and activities which will aid the discovery of new research opportunities, promote new research collaborations and improve the university’s ability to coordinate external partnerships.
- Offer new faculty a package of pre-positioned research computing services enabling them to quickly implement a research program upon joining the university and alleviate the need to create a computing infrastructure within each individual lab.
- Invest in informatics as an academic discipline, expanding faculty and graduate student expertise, to support research and enhance the educational experience for students.
- Cross-train staff on the entire range of research computing capabilities. Enable staff to work as “research concierges,” able to help faculty identify and assemble the full scope of research computing services they require across organizational boundaries. Expand the knowledge of the call center to include frequently used research computing applications. Continuously monitor the demand for support and develop mechanisms to identify, prioritize and address gaps in capabilities.
- Expand expertise, methodologies, tools and competencies used for large-scale data management, movement, access control utilization and visualization of data.
- Leverage emerging mentoring programs within management centers to provide a faculty research computing mentor to all new and junior faculty members. Tailor mentoring programs to fit within each management center’s structure and practice. Empower mentors to assist newer faculty to identify and access university research computing support.
- Expand and engage server and storage capacity in advance of demand. Consolidate management center research data facilities into the ITS data center. Continue to create modular, scalable storage up to at least a petabyte scale. Leverage Technology as a Service (TaaS) as appropriate to provide cost effective scaling of resources on-demand. Create a sustainable funding model to maintain storage capacity and promote usage and acceptance.
- Provision higher capacity networks based on research needs and to facilitate connections to external collaborators.
- Provide services and tools that enhance research presentation on the web to foster future research collaborations, support dissemination of knowledge, and encourage external partners to discover faculty expertise.
- Facilitate the formation of research computing communities of practice to share expertise and spark new ideas for the use of technology in research.
- Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of research administration services by deploying a pre-award research system and revised processes.