Nu er der åbnet for tilmeldingen til årets DeiC konference med fokus på modenhed og tilpasning.
Konferencens hovedtema er ”Alignment and Maturity: Implementing Research Infrastructure Solutions”.
Programmet er inddelt i fire spor: Data management, supercomputing (HPC), net og tjenester, samt sikkerhed. Inden for hvert spor vil der blive fokuseret på ’maturity’ og ’alignment’, samt strategier til løsninger på problemstillinger inden for forskningsinfrastrukturen.
On May 10th, the SDU eScience Center was visited by colleagues from Aarhus University and Aalborg University for a Back Office workshop in the DeiC Interactive HPC consortium. The DeiC Interactive HPC Back Office collaborates on the development and operation of the facility.
The overall topic of the workshop was “Developing UCloud apps” and discussion points included development tools, development workflow, deployment of apps on UCloud, to name a few.
“The main focus of the workshop was to share our knowledge and experience in developing applications for UCloud with other members of the consortium. During the lessons we took a specific use case to demonstrate all the steps of the app development workflow, doing a live coding session with all the participants”
Emiliano Molinaro, team leader for the user support team at the SDU eScience Center.
This year’s DeiC conference kicks off on the 26th and 27th of October!
Mark your calendar for the 26th – 27th of October 2022, for the DeiC conference! This time the conference will be held at Comwell Kolding.
The conference is the event of the year in the field of e-infrastructure, particularly for research and education. The focus of the conference will be data management, supercomputing, net & services, and security.
More information will follow in the coming months, as registration opens, and the preliminary program is released.
By the end of 2021, students and staff interested in digital methods, data wrangling, text and data mining from Aarhus University and University of Copenhagen were once again invited to join the annually recurring datasprint organised by The University Libraries at The Royal Danish Library (Det Kgl. Bibliotek).
With the purpose of developing competencies within the field of digital humanities, the datasprint focused on the importance of open political data and the potential of text and data mining in this context.
Large historical data sets were made available to the participants as raw material to explore using the cloud based Interactive High Performance Computing service, UCloud, developed for Danish Universities. A hybrid group of staff from Center for Humanities Computing Aarhus (CHCAA) and students from Information Science, Aarhus University participated in the datasprint in Aarhus (November 18th and 19th) and gained experience with applying UCloud in their work with large datasets.
Benefits of UCloud
High Performance Computing systems (HPC), colloquially referred to as ‘super computers’, are characterised by their immense amount of computing power that far surpasses the abilities of regular desktop computers.
With the cloud based service UCloud, though, complex HPC systems are made accessible for researchers and students even when working with large datasets on laptops.
According to the participants from CHCAA, Aarhus University one main advantage of working with UCloud at the datasprint was the efficiency gained from the use of UCloud as it inflicts more computer power and works faster than similar systems. The ability to process large amounts of data in a relatively short amount of time is also described as a significant feature of UCloud next to its intuitive interface and easy error recovery.
The value of UCloud in the datasprint
UCloud formed an important tool at the datasprint in Aarhus as the topic of the datasprint involved a considerable amount of data, that is the complete collection of Folketinget’s proceedings from 1953 to 2021.
A notable challenge working with the large dataset from the Danish parliament was that only contemporary data from the 2000’s onwards had already been categorised into subjects, a challenge that the participants from our hybrid group sought to solve in order to favour the conditions for analysing the dataset.
By creating a new classifier for the old datasets lacking categories of subjects, the dataset will thus become more accessible and available for further analyses: We’re working with only 20 subjects, so it is very generic …like economy, labour, foreign affairs.
– Jan Kostkan, Center for Humanities Computing, Aarhus University
A broader comprehension of the dataset from Folketinget can thus be gained, and the group found a way to categorise the proceedings making them available for further analyses by experts with subject-matter knowledge, for example historians.
Evaluating the datasprint
UCloud thus served a valuable tool at the datasprint in Aarhus this November. All four participants unanimously agree that UCloud contains significant advantages when it comes to working with large datasets as in the datasprint, mainly because UCloud has more computer power and works faster than other systems.
One specific quality of UCloud that is emphasised by the participants is its ability to support the collaborative working process as the system makes it easy to work with others, even on a distance. Apart from minor issues in the user interface, UCloud is generally commended for its usability, even for beginners, and both students and staff from the group stress the potential of including UCloud in teaching.
For the majority of researchers and students of the humanities, digital methods are far from standard procedure, and this is exactly what initiatives such as the datasprints organised and financed by The Royal Danish Library hope to change.
The value of digital methods in the humanities is gradually becoming clearer across disciplines. However, as programming and coding seems far from the traditional methods of the humanities, work still has to be done to fully integrate digital approaches in both research and teaching across the humanities.
Making use of digital methods opens new opportunities for working with large amounts of data and identifying connections across material – something that would simply be impossible without the integration of digital methods into the humanities.
The vision behind data(Tinget)
At the end of 2021, two datasprints focusing on the value of open political data and digital competencies were organised in Aarhus (November 18th-19th) and Copenhagen (December 2nd and 3rd). Due to a close collaboration between DeiC Facility for Interactive HPC and The Royal Danish Library, the cloud-based HPC (High Performance Computing) service UCloud developed for Danish Universities presented itself as a pertinent topic for the 2021-datasprints. More specifically, the participants were asked to explore parliamentary proceedings from the Danish Parliament (Folketinget) from 1953 to 2021 by use of UCloud at the datasprints.
The purpose of the datasprints were thus twofold: creating awareness of the value of open political data, and finally developing the digital competencies of the students and staff participating from Aarhus University and University of Copenhagen. UCloud played a significant part in the latter – as the datasprints involved considerable amounts of data -despite initial concerns for the organisers:
What worried us the most during the preparations was how difficult it would be to get the participants connected to UCloud. And if they would be able to use it at all. It went completely pain-free though; a few emails and fairly simple clicks on UCloud (full disclosure – it wasn’t me who had to click, so of course it was simple to me). And then it was up and running. Only real challenge was a semi bad internet connection on the first day in Copenhagen. And when they [the participants, red.] got access – all problems were gone, and everything went smooth!
– Christian B. Knudsen, The Royal Danish Library
UCloud as a key figure
As soon as the participants were confidential with UCloud, some of the benefits of working with the HPC service were made clear for participants as well as organisers. Per Møldrup-Dalum, one of the organisers of the datasprint (currently working as data manager for Center for Humanities Computing Aarhus/CHCAA) specifically emphasises UCloud as a pivotal tool at the datasprints:
Imagine the hassle when students, researchers, journalists, etc. show up with an equal number of different laptop computers. Some are old, others new, some running Windows, others Macs or Linux. Some attendees have no problem discerning between different Python versions, while others have never heard of Python or R or installing arbitrary software on their computer. Now, all these people need to have the same version of e.g. RStudio, R, Python and software to work with computer code. To get that to work could require a complete datasprint in itself.
– Per Møldrup-Dalum, The Royal Danish Library/CHCAA
All of these technical obstacles, however, were completely erased thanks to UCloud:
Now, enter UCloud. There we control everything and can ensure that it all just works — from the get-go! On top of that, we don’t have to worry that much about data size or computational resources. It’s all win-win.
– Per Møldrup-Dalum, The Royal Danish Library/CHCAA
As these evaluations show, UCloud holds major potential, not only in the context of these specific datasprints, but for developing digital skills across the humanities on a broader scale; the cloud-based HPC service, UCloud, simplifies the working process and makes collaborative work much more manageable. Hopefully, events such as the datasprints organised by The Royal Danish Library will have a sustained impact on researchers as well as students whose interest in digital methods and UCloud specifically can further the development and integration of digital methods across the humanities in the future.
Monday the 31st of January the partnering Universities (AU, AAU, and SDU) met up for a workshop to take stock on the first year with UCloud – DeiC Interactive HPC.
One year of Interactive HPC
One year after going live, the effect and esteem of UCloud across national users can be (partly) analysed, and with more than 2,800 users, 30,000 jobs run and 400 projects started, it seems that UCloud has been well received and proven a welcome service for a wide range of users. Also, the numbers show, that DeiC Interactive HPC/UCloud is mainly being used during working hours as intended because of the interactive element of the platform.
Though three out of four users are affiliates of one of the three partner universities, a growing number of users from University of Copenhagen and Copenhagen Business School employ UCloud in their research.
Outreach will continue in order to gain more users from all the Danish universities, nonetheless UCloud has reached a considerable number of users – including many female users, which is normally a challenge for HPC systems.
Center Director, Claudio Pica
The new website interactivehpc.dk will also play a part in future outreach to ensure even more users in the years to come.
Future developments on UCloud
As an intuitive and interactive platform, UCloud was developed to assist and support researcher’s need for both computing and data management.
In general, the UCloud service support for users has been credited with high satisfaction rates, however, this is still an area with room for improvement.
Center Director, Claudio Pica
Future development of the service in terms of software and UCloud functionalities was thus a central focus of the agenda when the consortium met at the end of January to reflect on this first year’s outcome. More specifically, the objective of the recent meeting was to discuss 1) improvement of the UCloud support 2) how to improve communication about UCloud on different platforms, and 3) how to develop the service, i.e. software and functionalities.
The national HPC landscape
Ambitions are high both in service support, development and documentation and the consortium will continue improving on UCloud and its accompanying services. UCloud also went through a major update (DeiC Project 5) in January 2022 preparing the platform to become the National Integration Portal.
DeiC Interactive HPC is part of a national HPC landscape, and all HPC facilities are now available except from Accelerated HPC, which is expected in 2022. The main objective of the landscape is to improve the e-infrastructure within Danish research and education.
The consortium behind DeiC Interactive HPC is a collaboration between Aalborg University Aarhus and University of Southern Denmark (SDU) including a partnership with The Royal Danish Library. Interactive HPC, was launched in the fall of 2020 with the purpose of encouraging and improving computing, storage, and network infrastructure across Danish education and research environments. The HPC service UCloud, developed by the consortium, plays a decisive role for the consortium’s primary objective concerning the improvement of national e-infrastructure.
More workshops are planned in the near future, bringing the partnering universities SDU, Aalborg University and Aarhus University even closer together in their joint effort to provide the best research infrastructure across Danish and education and research environments.
In November 2020, the Danish universities coordinated by DeiC committed to working closely together to provide a joint platform to access all the DeiC national services such as the national HPC facilities. The project known as DeiC Project 5 will create the National Integration Portal based on the UCloud software infrastructure. As part of the DeiC Project 5, we are now introducing a major update of UCloud, preparing the platform to allow multiple providers to expose their services.
As part of the call for National HPC services, a consortium consisting of DTU, AU and SDU was awarded by the DeiC Board the DeiC Project 5, the goal of which is to build the National Integration Portal. This project will extend the UCloud software to provide the additional functionality required by the National Integration Portal.
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One Danish research group can get the unique opportunity to make their metadata machine actionable in a 2 x 1/2 day event – free of charge. The concept is developed by researchers for researchers.
The aim of the M4M WS is to work practically on how to improve your metadata and make them machine-actionable, thus complying with the Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (FAIR) principles.