University Technology Services partners with researchers to accommodate a variety of needs for research computing. Several scenarios are detailed below.
Research Information Technology, Computing and Cyberinfrastructure Support
The National Science Foundation (NSF) defines Cyberinfrastructure as "the layer of hardware, algorithms, software, communications, institutions, and personnel that support research." UTS supports or assists faculty with research cyberinfrastructure needs, in particular networking, computing, storage and data preservation. UTS assists with data and network security documentation as required for grant processes. Additional information about networking and Internet2 membership is found on the UTS Network page. Recognizing the data-intensive nature of research, UTS reviews and implements technology safeguards and protections in compliance with HIPAA, FERPA, PII, export controls, and other laws and regulations. UTS assists researchers with technical compliance strategies and implementations.
Research Computing from Campus Offices and Labs
Offices and personal labs may contain computers or specialty computer devices specific to research or grants. Most offices and labs are already capable of supporting a limited number of specialty computers and devices using existing network jacks. However, if these devices require special types of connectivity, security, bandwidth, or jacks, then requirements will need to be coordinated with the researcher, the department, and University Technology Services.
UTS implements security practices on its networks that require Virtual Private Network access, Firewall Rule requests, and Static IP address requests for any device needing specific connectivity to other devices on or off campus. We provide security consultation services for research computing devices.
Due to the importance of research data, UTS also advises on appropriate backup and data retention strategies.
Devices requiring modifications to an office or special electrical capacity may also require involvement with Campus Facilities to accommodate these requirements. If special electrical or cooling environments are needed, UTS provides hosting services in the university datacenter.
Research Computing Facilities
UTS maintains an on-campus datacenter as well as contacts
with off-campus facilities that may be able to accommodate research computing
installations. Larger computer installations such as clusters, multi-component computers, or distributed computers require network connectivity, space, electrical power, fire suppression, and heating and cooling environmental controls. Academic units may have limited space dedicated to these types of installations. If off-campus research computing installations are considered, UTS is available to assist with planning and review. In all of these cases, it is important that departmental, divisional, and UTS professionals are involved with the planning requirements in order to achieve installation and operational security and success.
Faculty may also want to review Computing and Storage Services Information and Campus Software Information.
While requirements are tailored for each specific installation, important information to consider include size, weight, and footprint of equipment (for instance rack-mounted or stand alone), electrical requirements of the equipment, heat output, operational conditions including minimum and maximum temperature and humidity range, number of network connections, required bandwidth, and required network protocols.
Sponsored Research Considerations
Sponsored research requires special evaluation as the computing technology may be required to operate in compliance with contracts, regulations, and grant stipulations.
The researcher should coordinate with their department, University Technology Services, the office of Grants and Sponsored Research, the Purchasing Department, and the Office of Legal Affairs. Contracts need to be reviewed by each of these groups.
Some examples of areas of research grants and contracts that may require specific IT considerations include but are not limited to:
- Military, Defense, or Department of Homeland Security
- Healthcare and Medical
- Corporate or Private Intellectual Property
- Student or Educational data
- National Science Foundation Grants
- National Institute of Health Grants
- Network utilization or traffic analysis
Typical issues include:
- Software licenses
- Data controls, backup, retention and disposal
- Compliance with regulations such as HIPAA and FERPA
- Network security
- Hardware security
- Access control
- Information technology export controls and restrictions
- Network connectivity requirements including Internet2 or other advanced networking requirements such as site to site connectivity
Researchers will want to consider the cost of computer hardware, software, and operational administration as a part of a grant. Research sometimes includes installation of unique hardware and software where the operational expertise or systems administration requires additional staffing, ongoing contracting, maintenance agreements or oversight.
Research computing or technology that is collaborative across international boundaries may also be subject to export control laws and restrictions. Any collaborative work where hardware, software, or data are shared with foreign nationals or are part of an international research effort must be reviewed by University Technology Services, the Office of Grants and Sponsored Research, and the Office of Legal Affairs. The principle investigator for a project will be required to sign an acknowledgment of export control responsibilities and develop a written data security plan approved by Oakland University's Office of University Technology Services.