EGI-InSPIRE:TNA3.3 NGI User Support Teams

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Role of NGI User Support Teams in TNA3.3

The main actors of EGI are the National Grid Initiatives (NGIs) whose work is coordinated by the EGI.eu organisation. NGIs ensure the operation of the grid infrastructures and support services in each country as well as a transparent representation of the requirements of all their scientific communities. The primary responsibility of the User Support Teams (USTs) of the NGIs is to provide services for users that help these users integrate/establish self-sustainable EGI user communities. These services provided by NGI USTs belong to TNA3.3. The services include (but are not restricted to):

  • Identifying new users and new user communities
  • Consultancy: NGI USTs provide technical advice on the infrastructure and support services available to users and on the various DCI technologies that EGI could provide access to in order to support their research activities. NGIs are expected to engage with national scientific communities and catalyze grid uptake within the country. After the first contact is made with a new community, consultancy is typically the next service required.
  • Training: Many NGIs provide their own training team and facilities for users. These NGI teams provide courses at various levels and with different scope. While short events only give a brief introduction for new users, longer courses include hands-on sessions and provide attendees with a deep knowledge on specific services and tools.
  • Porting scientific applications to the infrastructure: Experts within the NGIs are available to support users in the integration of new applications into the production infrastructure. This activity involves an analysis of the existing software, an analysis of the users’ expectations and needs, defining porting scenarios, then coding, testing and finally documenting the application. For the sake of other users NGI teams also assist with sharing the grid-enabled applications with the EGI community through the application database.
  • Arranging access for users to EGI applications: The fastest and easiest way to use the grid is to access the already grid-enabled applications. NGIs can help users access and use applications from other communities, applications that are available in the EGI application database.
  • Supporting new VOs: Virtual Organisations represent the collaboration of people and computers on the grid. VOs can be setup for the purpose of a single grid application, to support scientists from the same field or for researchers who work in the same geographic region. NGIs can provide users with information about existing VOs, about the processes of joining VOs, or setting up a new VO if the scope of existing VOs is not in line with the users’ scientific goals. NGIs can also assist in the allocation of computing, storage and other types of resources into VOs.
  • Developing new software services (portals, toolkits, middleware extensions, etc.): Most scientific collaborations and VOs require additional elements in the infrastructure to fully exploit the capabilities of their scientific applications. The integration of new infrastructure services, new portal interfaces, new programming frameworks or toolkits require deep knowledge of the existing architecture. NGIs can help users during this process, by allocating experts who can assist these users during the development, testing and integration of the components.
  • Collecting feedback (which is then evaluated and prioritised by TNA3.2): NGI USTs engage with user communities within their countries, monitor their development and collect feedback from them on the services and features of EGI. This feedback is collected and prioritised by EGI.eu than forwarded to the middleware developer and infrastructure operator teams, who incorporate the requested changes into the EGI roadmap.
  • Improving documentation: Documentations on the infrastructure, its components and services are available for users at various levels. Experts in the NGI help users find appropriate documentation and contribute to new documentation as new technologies and procedures become available, or gaps in current documentation is found.
  • Providing helpdesk: NGIs provide support personnel who can answer and deal with day-to-day issues that users find and experience during using the infrastructure. This helpdesk is available for users through a central Web portal where requests and answers can be accessed.
  • Fostering the integration of communities (identified by TNA3.2): The integration of scientific communities is carried out by establishing Virtual Research Communities (VRCs). VRCs represent sustainable, key customers for EGI. The VRC accreditation process is managed by EGI.eu UCST.


What is expected from NGI User Support Teams?

There are a number of formal and informal documents that members of NGI User Support Teams need to read in order to gain a thorough understanding of the user support activities of EGI. Many of these are reports that are produced as part of the official activities dictated by the Description of Work (DoW) for EGI-InSPIRE. The DoW defines many of our activities for the four years of the InSPIRE project.

NGI User Support Teams, primarily the main contacts are expected to be familiar with these resources:

Optional readings:

As a bare minimum it is expected that NGI User Support Teams are proactive in informing the rest of the community about new solutions, experiences and developments. There are number of ways to do so (see D3.1 document for details):

Role of EGI.eu in TNA3.3

NGIs are heterogeneous in terms of the size and composition of their user communities, the size and expertise of their USTs. Consequently, NGIs are not equally active and strong in all the above listed user support fields. E.g. while an NGI UST can be very experienced with application porting, it may have less interest and knowledge on the development of grid portals for end users. On top of that the primary goal of EGI is to attract and serve multi-national, large user communities. To meet these demands the User Community Support Team (UCST) of EGI.eu monitors the status of NGI USTs and help NGIs

  • serve local users whose requirements exceed the expertise and capacity which is available locally;
  • serve international user communities by integrating the user support services and expertise of multiple NGI USTs;
  • identify and recommend best practices and tools for NGI USTs.

The monitoring of NGIs is currently done through face to face and telephone interviews, online and email questionnaires. EGI.eu UCST aims to put a more efficient mechanism in place to simplify the monitoring process and to allow NGIs to "broadcast" relevant information about their user support status and services in an intelligent way to EGI.eu and other NGIs.

User Support contacts in the NGIs

  • EGI.eu maintains a list of NGI user support contacts. Please get in contact with your NGI's support contact in training, consultancy and other types of support.
  • If you cannot find your country in the list, or would like to add/correct your countries representative then please contact the User Community Support Team of EGI: ucst@egi.eu.
  • These persons are also subscribed to the email list ngi-ust-managers@mailman.egi.eu. List archive: https://mailman.egi.eu/mailman/private/ngi-ust-managers/ (available for list members only)


Country Name of main User

Support Contact in the NGI

NGI user support contact (YES)
or
NGI technical contact (NO)
Albania Neki Frasheri YES
Armenia Hrachya Astsatryan YES
Belarus Oleg Tchij NO
Belgium Rosette Vandenbrouck YES
Bulgaria Aneta Karaivanova YES
Cyprus Andoena Balla YES
Croatia Ivan Maric (through email list) YES
Czech Republic Ivana Krenkova YES
Denmark Michael Gronager YES (also for the whole Nordic region)
Estonia Hardi Teder (through email list) YES
Finland Vera Hansper YES
France Helene Cordier, Geneviève Romier YES
Georgia Nugzar Gamtsemlidze, Ramaz Kvatadze YES
Germany Torsten Antoni YES
Greece Vasileios Gkamas, Kostas Koumantaros YES
Hungary Imre Szeberenyi, Agnes Szeberenyi YES (also through email list)
Ireland David O'Callaghan, Stuart Kenny, John Walsh YES (through email list)
Israel Arad Alper YES
Italy Daniele Cesini, Emidio Giorgio, Claudio Vuerli, Antonio Lagana, Luciano Milanesi, Laura Perini YES
Latvia Leo Truksans, Kaspars Krampis, Dana Ludviga YES
Lithuania Rolandas Naujikas NO
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Anastas Misev YES
Republic of Moldova Nikolai P. Iliuha, Alexandr Golubev YES
Montenegro Lidija Milosavljevic YES
Netherlands Machiel Jansen, Tom Visser YES
Norway Jacko Koster NO
Poland Mariusz Sterzel, Maciej Filocha YES
Portugal Gonçalo Borges YES
Romania Monica Anghel YES
Russian Federation Valeriy Kirichenko YES
Serbia Vladimir Slavnic YES (also through email list)
Slovakia Ladislav Hluchy YES
Slovenia Barbara Krasovec YES (through email list)
Spain Vicente Hernández YES
Sweden Mats Nylén No
Switzerland - -
Turkey Emrah AKKOYUN YES
United Kingdom John Kewley YES
Outside of Europe
Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico Renato Santana, Luciano Diaz, Andres Holguin YES
Taiwan Hsin-Yen Chen, Stella Shen, Vicky Huang Yes (through email list)
Philippines Ms. Nena Carina Española Yes
Indonesia Basuki Suhardiman, Pelita Fajarhati Yes
Republic of Korea Soonwook Hwang Yes


  • Related milestone document: MS301-User Support Contacts
  • NGI User Support Teams session of EGI Technical Forum 2010: session
  • Overview presentation of "NGI based User Support in EGI" by Gergely Sipos at EGI Technical Forum 2010: presentation

User-related development projects inside the NGIs

Greece:

  • repository.egi.eu: respotory for EGI middleware components
  • appdb.egi.eu: EGI Application database
  • Enabling the Environment Modules package (http://modules.sourceforge.net/) on UIs and WNs to make users capable of modifying the environment their applications run in.
  • HellasGrid Wiki (http://wiki.hellasgrid.gr): Contains documentation and guides (in text and multimedia format) for both grid users and administrators
  • Training portal (http://www.egee-see.org/training/): An information portal for the various trainings performed in Greece. The portal is in Greek, training materials are available in English.
  • Software Discovery Engine (http://sde.hellasgrid.gr/): A service to discover grid sites where particular software is installed, and to find instructions on how to use the installed software.

Italy:

  • In view of SC10’s live demos:
    • enhanced the status of the VisualGrid application with the support to the stereoscopy. Created two different use cases for VisualGrid: 3D rendering using Blender and VISIVO.
    • Updated the infrastructure for the ASTRA demo.
  • Developed of Java APIs for supporting a new grid authentication process with smart card.
  • Started to update the IGI Application Database.
  • Applications porting and support to the user for no HEP disciplines like Climatology, Biology and Geology
  • Test of the installation and configuration of a dedicated Nagios server for VOs

Ireland:

  • Grid-Ireland eLearning facility: http://www.grid.ie/elgrid/
  • A framework to facilitate simple parameter sweep type applications is in development – it is currently being used in a Computational Mathematics application, but will be reused by our other user communities.
  • MPI support will be provided under EGI-INSPIRE TSA 3.2.5.

Serbia:

  • SCL repository service (http://rpm.scl.rs) powered by DWARF (https://dwarf.scl.rs/) that contains self produced RPMS (produced by Scientific Laboratory) and mirror repositories of different version of Linux (Scientific Linux, Ubuntu), gLite software and some frequently used community repositories (e.g. dag).
  • WatG Browser (What is at the Grid Browser) (http://watgbrowser.scl.rs:8080/), a web-based Grid Information System (GIS) visualization application providing detailed overview of the status and availability of various Grid resources in a given gLite-based e-Infrastructure (description at https://http.ipb.ac.rs/tools/watg_browser/).
  • gFinger (https://http.ipb.ac.rs/tools/gfinger/), a command-line tool provides information on local VOMS mapping of users authenticated by digital certificates on various Grid services, such as Computing Element (CE), Workload Management System (WMS), Storage Element (SE), etc.

Switzerland:

  • List of applications ported to Swiss Multi-Science Computing Grid: www.smscg.ch

UK:

NGI User Support Teams - Knowledge base

The purpose of this knowledge base is to collect those services, tools and solutions that NGI USTs can offer for other NGIs and for the EGI collaboration to serve international user communities. The knowledge base also collects requirements from the NGI USTs that EGI must meet in order to facilitate the user support activity within these NGIs. Initial content for the table has been collected in a Requirements_gathering_details#Surveys_for_user_communities by EGI.eu.

Knowledge base: Excel file in EGI Humyo

The knowledge base can be updated by NGIs by sending a new version of it to ucst AT egi DOT eu.