Information Services Division


User stories feedback: Chris Finan, Institute of Cardiovascular Science

User story feedback on Research Facilitation. "... very smooth and fast with good communication on the part of research IT services throughout the process."

Summary: Chris contacted us in October 2016 for a mini HPC. Following further discussions with him, we proposed that eMedLab could be a solution that would meet his requirements. Following eMedLab upgrade in later half of 2017, we supported Chris the application process and Chris have his tenancy by the end of 2017. Chris and his team have been regularly using it since then.


February 2018

Q1. Briefly, what were the queries or requirements you contacted us research facilitators about?

We required instances to house our in-house research database platform. We discussed with IT support the merits of two 128GB nodes as opposed to a single 256GB node and after consultation went with two instances of 128GB, 4TB storage (shared) and 8 cores each. One of the instances is used as a development machine to produce the next version of the database, the other is an analysis machine that is available to other researches on the project. We estimated that the tenancy would be for two years and then end we would have a mature database application. After this time period we may apply to extend the tenancy for the development machine and would hope to make the database publicly available.

Q2. What suggestions do you have for Research IT Service facilitators to improve on for a very similar request?

On the eMedLab tenancy application form there are questions regarding CPU time. This is understandable given that eMedLab is a shared resource and the maintainers have to budget resources. However, from a researcher’s perspective these sorts of questions are difficult to answer, or even begin to contemplate! Some general guidance form/FAQ based on application or number of users would be a big help with this.

Q3. How far do you feel the applications / tools / services / advice we provided you with meet with your requirement?

We have just begun to use our eMedLab instances in earnest and I feel that the service and the advice is very good. I underestimated the need for a small instance to run as an NFS server (8GB 4 cores) between the database instances, however, these resources were soon made available to me.

Q4. If you were recommended tools or services (Research Computing, eMedLab, Data Safe Haven etc.), how effective was our facilitation service in providing you information and getting your accounts?

I found the whole process of applying and setting up of out eMedLab project was very smooth and fast with good communication on the part of research IT services throughout the process.

Q5. What differences, if any, do the recommended IT tools / services make to your research work compared to before you used such tools / services?

The eMedLab service has improved our workflow immensely. We now have two capable instances housing our databases that can be accessed via everyone involved in the project. Before this service, desktops/workstations were being used to develop the databases and then the database was dumped to an old underpowered workstation for analysts to use. I am certainly thinking about using eMedLab for other future research projects. The support we have had combined with the flexibility of a cloud based system is a real eye opener for someone used to working on workstations.