ARC Beta and Pilot Program

ARC evaluates many new, nascent and emerging technologies in order to deliver high-impact services and tools that are required by UBC researchers.  Researchers are invited to partner with ARC on these evaluations and work together on identifying and narrowing down these needs. 

Participants who sign up for the beta and pilot program will be added to the ARC-PILOTS mailing list, (managed by ARC), where they can expect to receive up to four emails per year with information about participating in upcoming beta tests and pilots, updates on current or completed pilots and tests, and the occasional profile featuring current or past participants. ARC will contact researchers whose research profiles appear to be an ideal match for a limited pilot or testing series. 

Purpose

The purpose of the ARC Beta and Pilot Program is to involve our research community in the assessment of advanced technologies through providing early and/or trial access to new services and platforms.  

Audience

Ideal use cases include: 

  • Researchers whose current computational resources are at capacity
  • Researchers who find that the current HPC learning curve is too steep
  • Researchers whose software appears ill-suited for batch jobs

Costs

There is no cost to researcher participation.  However, please note that services will be limited for the duration of the beta or pilot program. 

Participation

Click here to join the ARC Beta and Pilot Program mailing list.  Participation in each beta or pilot is strictly voluntary and independent of signing up to this program. Participants will be matched to the beta test or pilot according to fit.  

 

Betas and Pilots Currently Underway 

Bursting from UBC ARC Sockeye to Microsoft Azure

Bursting, the function of expanding current capabilities by seamlessly expanding to additional resources, from UBC ARC Sockeye, increases available resources and reduces queue times. Enabling the capability to burst to Microsoft Azure enables researchers to leverage Azure education credits for existing HPC workloads. Designing and piloting this capability will also allow UBC ARC to fully comprehend what it would require to offer Azure bursting-as-a-service and support this function for multiple commercial cloud vendors, having already completed a bursting pilot leveraging Microsoft Azure.

Ideal pilot participants are researchers experienced with HPC and comfortable adjusting workflows. We are looking to support CPU-intensive single-node workloads currently being run on Sockeye. The following restrictions apply:

  • GPU workloads cannot be supported
  • Large, multi-node workloads cannot be supported
  • Commercial software is not supported for this pilot due to licensing issues  

Required HPC experience: Intermediate-Expert

Sockeye-at-scale capacity burst computing events

Sockeye-at-scale capacity bursting events enable pre-approved projects that require all or nearly all of the capacity of the UBC ARC Sockeye supercomputer at once. Scheduled to take place in the week leading up to scheduled maintenance, bursting is accomplished using capacity gained from decreased available job wall times due to scheduled cluster shutdowns. Such computations are within Sockeye’s mandate, as these events enable us to ensure every available computational cycle is made available to the UBC research community.

Ideal pilot participants are researchers that have massively parallel jobs that can be adjusted to run within varying and limited timeframes (e.g., under 7 days, 6 days, etc.)

Required HPC experience: Intermediate-Expert

 

Coming Soon!  

Depending on the beta or pilot in question, offerings will range from additional compute capacity to early access to new tools. Researchers will work with the ARC team directly to learn more about delivering advanced research computing services.  Upcoming beta tests and pilots include: 

Serverless computing for research

Serverless computing allows researchers to write and deploy code without the need to connect directly to a traditional HPC cluster or server. While UBC researchers are already actively exploring serverless computing for a variety of embarrassingly parallel workloads, UBC ARC seeks to deliver serverless computing as a means of accessing existing digital research infrastructure such as UBC ARC Sockeye.

Ideal pilot participants are researchers that possess proficiencies in programming languages such as Python and are comfortable adapting existing CPU-based workloads to use containers (e.g., Apptainer) or with existing experience using containers.

Required HPC experience: Beginner

Graphical and interactive HPC access

While the utility of traditional command-line and batch-processing remains uncontested, new capabilities now exist through graphical HPC software and interactive tools. Platforms such as Open OnDemand offer features and functionality that essentially deliver traditional HPC services via modern web interface, including graphical interactive computing such as remote desktops and Jupyter Notebooks. The purpose of this pilot is to evaluate, select and pilot one or more tools in this category.

Ideal pilot participants are researchers experienced with leveraging traditional HPC interfaces and software who interested in interactive computing or graphical tools.

Required HPC experience: Intermediate

 

Completed Pilots and Betas

Click here for a list of completed Betas and Pilots.  

 

Limitations and Restrictions

Please note:  Beta tests and pilots are strictly for evaluation purposes; ARC cannot guarantee that a device or application that is beta tested or piloted may be rolled out to production.  Not all initiatives may be suitable or intended for production-level research and no PHI or sensitive data may be stored or processed.