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Integrated Systems Guide For Researchers
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Integrated Systems Guide

If you are a researcher at one of Atlantic Canada’s higher education institutions and are planning on purchasing advanced research computing infrastructure ( e.g. CPUs, GPUs, storage) in the near future, we recommend consulting the following guide which outlines the process. Note, however, that due to the differences in individual grants and funding bodies, some aspects may vary and change over time. Thus, we encourage you to contact us directly to discuss your particular situation.

For general information: info@ace-net.ca

For research and technical support: support@ace-net.ca

Before Applying for Your Grant

Determine what you need

We recommend that you contact ACENET early in your planning process to:

Build your budget

When developing your budget, you will need to take the following into account.

If you are preparing a Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) grant budget, there are additional aspects you need to be aware of to avoid complications later on.

Obtain a quote

Most grants require at least one quote to accompany the grant application in order to support the budget. ACENET staff have extensive experience with Tier I vendors, thus can help you with this task. However, please note that:

Aside from the hardware’s technical specifications, quotes must include:

Quotes supporting applications to CFI require a full price breakdown: list price, normal discount price, educational price, price with CFI in-kind contribution, and CFI in-kind contribution dollar amount.

If the quote is not obtained by ACENET:

Submit your application

While awaiting a response, don’t hesitate to contact us at support@ace-net.ca if you require compute resources to conduct your research. Our regional cluster Siku or another national resources may be able to accommodate your computational needs.

If Your Application is Successful

We are happy to support you through the process of obtaining your hardware. If you haven’t been in contact with ACENET before, it is advisable to get in touch with us by sending an email to support@ace-net.ca.

Liaise with ACENET

CFI Awards over $100,000

By default, CFI grants that propose ARC equipment purchases above $100,000 receive a condition on the release of the funds. This condition requires the successful applicant to contact ACENET to determine if the requested infrastructure should be integrated into an existing ACENET-managed system. This is done to avoid unnecessary duplication in the interest of effectively using public funds.

Following a meeting with ACENET, we provide a Letter of Recommendation (via the Digital Research Alliance of Canada) to help CFI determine whether your condition has been met. This will trigger the release of funds.

CFI Awards under $100,000

Even if you are planning on purchasing compute infrastructure below $100,000 it is advisable to contact ACENET and explore system integration options to have your equipment professionally managed at little or no cost.

As most grants require a percentage of matching funds or in-kind contribution, it is advisable to carefully assess the available cash for the hardware purchase. This will facilitate productive communications with vendors.  

All equipment purchases will be conducted by your university’s procurement department.

The Procurement Process

Depending on your needs and budget, the equipment may be procured via public tender, competitive quotes, or in rare cases, through a sole-source purchase. Your procurement officer will be able to advise you of the most suitable process. To ensure that the final Purchase Order (PO) contains all relevant technical specifications, warranty and installation support requirements, ACENET should be involved in the procurement process.

Public Tender and Quote Requirements

Vendor quotes are normally valid for a set period of time, often 30 days. The quote that you have submitted with your grant application may be out of date by the time your application is approved. To ensure the best value for public funding, the procurement process will likely be competitive. Your budget will determine whether the equipment is to be procured through an RFP or an RFQ process. In either case,  your request for proposals or quotes needs to contain the following:

Evaluation of Public Tender Responses or Quotes

ACENET can help you decide which quote or proposal best suits your needs, as decisions should not  be based solely on price. Your university’s procurement department will contact the successful vendor and prepare the purchase order.

Integration

Compute and storage infrastructure funded through non-Alliance grants is integrated with existing ACENET-managed systems at Memorial University, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.

ACENET Costs

ACENET integrates small to medium-sized purchases with our  existing basic infrastructure, including racks, networking (InfiniBand, Ethernet) and a 10 TB default storage allocation. To recover our costs for these, we charge a one-time hosting fee per rack unit used.

If the new equipment is funded by an organization other than CFI, a service and maintenance fee is applied on an annual basis. We also monitor and annually charge for the power consumption of individual servers.

The Hosting Agreement

To establish a consistent set of conditions, procedures, and services provided with each hardware integration, we provide the Principal Investigator (PI) and the participating university with a Hosting Agreement. This document covers the conditions for installation, utilization, maintenance, and decommissioning, and outlines the costs associated with the integration.

Expectation of Resource Sharing

To optimize the use of equipment integrated with national computing infrastructure, and to reduce overall operating costs, it is expected that unused compute cycles for all integrated equipment are made available to all researchers. For more information, please refer to the Alliance’s Renewed Policy Guidance on Integrated Hardware (Contributed Systems).

Accessing Your Contribution

PIs (and their sponsored users) with equipment integrated into an existing ACENET-managed system, receive top-priority access to the number of CPUs (or GPUs) equivalent to their contribution. Jobs in excess of the contributed number of CPUs or GPUs may be submitted using a standard-priority account code.

For more information on integrated systems, please contact support@ace-net.ca.