User Support

To efficiently exploit the innovative, leading-edge features of the Blue Waters hardware and software, and to best assist science teams to conduct breakthrough research, the Blue Waters project office has developed a User Support model based on several key aspects.

  • Blue Waters provides traditional Partner Consulting as part of its User Services. Standard service requests for assistance with porting, debugging, allocation issues, and software requests are handled through the Jira ticket system at help+bw@ncsa.illinois.edu.
  • Advanced Application Support beyond the above traditional consulting for projects on Blue Waters can be requested via the ticket system. The requests are reviewed and evaluated by the Blue Waters Project Office (BWPO) for breadth, reach, and impact for the  project and the community at large. 
  • Major Science teams (for example, NSF PRAC awards) are assigned a Point of Contact (PoC) within the Science and Engineering Application Support (SEAS) group. Initial contact with a science team starts with a questionnaire, followed by meetings to gather information on project goals, approaches, status, challenges, requirements, and concerns.The PoC works with the science team on advanced application support areas such as tuning, modeling, I/O and optimizing application codes as well as standard service requests. The teams are expected to provide channels of communication for the PoC as well as timely information on project status, publications in progess and in press,  and project successes. 
  • Major Science team Advanced Application Support activities have PoCs participate in code restructuring, re-engineering or redesign such as implementing GPU functionality via OpenACC or alternatives to MPI collective operations. Such work is tracked via a coordinated work plan that is developed between the PoC and the science team to clearly indicate the scope and scale of the work involved including milestones and deliverables. Work plans are reviewed and approved or rejected by the Blue Waters Project Office.
  • Support for workflows, data movement and visualization are provided by the representative groups within Blue Waters and are available by sending email to help+bw@ncsa.illinois.edu. 

In conjunction with Blue Waters system deployment, NCSA and University of Illinois launched a comprehensive program to provide enhanced intellectual services to the science and engineering teams using petascale computing in their research. The goal of the NCSA/Illinois Enhanced Intellectual Services for Petascale Performance (NEIS-P2) program is achieving the full potential of the Blue Waters system on a broad range of science and engineering applications, from applications that are compute-intensive to those that are data- and memory-intensive.

NEIS-P2 comprises three components that parallel the deployment and operations phases of the Blue Waters system.

  • Component 1 – Direct support to adopt new technologies. (Completed)
    • Enabled teams to implement methods in their applications that utilized features of the Cray XE/XK system.
    • Experiment with novel approaches to problems their application may be having. 
  • Component 2 – Community Engagement, Outreach and Training (Ongoing)
  • Component 3 – Petascale Application Improvement Discovery (PAID)
    • Facilitate the creation of new methods and approaches that will dramatically improve the ability to achieve sustained science on petascale systems
    • Assist the general computational science community in making effective use of systems at all scales
    • Areas of development being determined.