CCAST Usage Policies

These are the policies that govern the usage of CCAST resources. Some terms may be out-of-date. Contact CCAST for clarification.

  1. General User Policies
  2. CCAST Accounts
  3. Storage Allocation and Data Management Policy
  4. Default Allocations
  5. Backup
  6. Application Software Installation Requests and Application Software Licenses
  7. Queues
  8. User-Procured Condominiums

I. General User Policies

1. Overview

The Center for Computationally Assisted Science and Technology (CCAST) computing facility is a part of the North Dakota State University (NDSU) research infrastructure. The policies defined in this document supplement University-wide and IT-wide policies and incorporate all those policies by reference.  Our goal is to help ensure that CCAST computing facilities are secure, available equitably to all eligible users, and used efficiently.  All CCAST account holders must read, understand, and consent to the CCAST User Policies before accessing CCAST computers.

2. Authorized Use

Owners of CCAST accounts are authorized to use the CCAST computing facility for academic educational and research purposes only. Use of the facility for anything other than academic research and instruction (e.g. commercial purposes) must be approved by CCAST administration prior to such use. Application software used by the owners of CCAST accounts must be properly licensed for this use at NDSU CCAST.  CCAST account holders must comply with all applicable license agreements.  

3. Unacceptable Use and Misconduct

Using CCAST computing facility in a way that obstructs its operations, compromises the stability of the computer systems, and/or violates other CCAST account owners’ privacy is unacceptable, and may lead to the disciplinary action, including suspension of CCAST privileges. Violations of local, state or federal law will be addressed accordingly.

4. Login Nodes

Login nodes are servers through which users may submit, query or delete jobs. Running jobs on login nodes is prohibited. Nodes allocated by the queuing system are the only computing resources for use of more than minimal computation. CCAST reserves the right to delete, without warning, processes running on login nodes for more than 10 minutes.

5. Data Confidentiality and Intellectual Property

Although CCAST provides technology to protect CCAST account owners’ data, it cannot guarantee that this data will not become compromised, for example due to inappropriate access controls set by account holders. It is the CCAST account holders’ responsibility to protect their data from exposure. No data with legal restrictions on access (e.g., HIPAA, Personally Identifiable Information (PII) or FERPA data, etc.) may be stored on CCAST resources without prior authorization by the CCAST Executive Director and/or NDSU Vice President of IT.

6. Owners of CCAST accounts are solely responsible for setting and maintaining permissions for their files and directories and must understand Linux file system permissions.  CCAST account holders are advised not to change the default file system permissions without testing if their changes are correct.  

7. CCAST will not access CCAST account holders’ data without consent except under circumstances that require immediate action or by direction of the VP/IT. In such cases, CCAST will notify CCAST account owners and the NDSU VP/IT that such action has taken place.

8. Intellectual property (IP) developed using CCAST resources will be governed by NDSU Policy 190. 

9. Reporting

During the first 2 weeks of each new fiscal year, all Project PIs must provide to CCAST administration information about research derivatives and teaching and outreach activities enabled by use of CCAST computing facilities in the previous fiscal year. Fiscal years run from July 1 to June 30. This information must include list of publications (journal articles, book chapters, conference presentations and other significant publications), list of submitted patent applications and awarded patents, list of submitted proposals (with information whether the proposals were successful, not successful or were still pending), list of completed MS and PhD theses/degrees and list of courses and outreach activities for which CCAST computing resources were used. 

10. Acknowledgements

CCAST account owners are required to acknowledge the use of CCAST computing facility in any research outputs (publications, reports, presentations, etc.) resulting from its use. The standard acknowledgement text can be found in the CCAST User Guide. 

11. Contact

Important notices from CCAST staff to the CCAST account owners will be sent via email and/or posted on the CCAST website. Support requests are to be sent to ndsu.ccast.support@ndsu.edu.

II. CCAST Accounts

1. Account Eligibility

NDSU faculty, staff, postdoctoral researchers and students with valid Bison ID are eligible to obtain a CCAST account.  Outside collaborators of NDSU faculty and staff physically residing and present in the U.S. and who are affiliated with a U.S. academic, government or other institution may apply for CCAST accounts provided they work on a project whose Principal Investigator (PI) is a member of NDSU faculty or staff.  CCAST reserves the right to decline a CCAST account application. Normally, access to CCAST computers is limited to NDSU network. Requests to access CCAST computers from outside the NDSU Campus will be assessed on an individual basis. Logging in to the CCAST computer infrastructure from locations outside of the continental U.S. is strictly prohibited.   

2. All prospective CCAST account holders must have an active research project PI.  NDSU faculty members and certain staff members may be PIs for CCAST research projects.

3. CCAST account holders are responsible for promptly reporting to CCAST any changes in their status at NDSU, department affiliation, institutional affiliation (for outside collaborators) and/or research project.  

4. Account Expiration

CCAST accounts will be re-validated at least twice a year, usually at the beginning of the Fall and Spring academic semesters. Preserving data from invalidated or otherwise suspended accounts is the sole responsibility of the corresponding CCAST account holder. CCAST storage may NOT be used for storage of primary copies of data for more than minimal amounts of time without prior approval from the CCAST Executive Director.

5. Passwords

Passwords must be strong and comply with following guidelines:

- Use 8 to 32 characters, longer passwords tend to be stronger than more obscure passwords

- Preferably use characters from all four of the following character classes: lowercase letters (a, b, c, uppercase letters (A, B, C, …), numbers (0, 1, 2, …), special characters (!,@,#,$,%...)

6. Security and Compliance

CCAST account holders are solely responsible for all activities conducted using their accounts. CCAST account holders must use SSH protocol to access CCAST computing resources. CCAST account holders must not share their accounts or their account passwords with anyone. CCAST staff will not ask for account holders' passwords. CCAST account holders must promptly inform CCAST staff if the account is compromised or if they notice any suspicious activity in their account.

7. CCAST Account Owner and Account Sponsor Requirements

CCAST account owners must read the introduction and other documentation relevant to the computing resource they intend to use before logging into that resource for the first time.

8. CCAST account owners (both new and re-validating) must attest that they have read and agree to the CCAST user policies.  In particular, they must agree to comply with CCAST user policies regarding the prohibition of storing or processing any sensitive or classified material, including information subject to HIPAA, FERPA, etc.

III. Storage Allocation and Data Management Policy

CCAST provides several directories for CCAST account owners to store and manage their research data. CCAST account owners are solely responsible for following the guidelines of NDSU's Record Management Program with respect to data stored on CCAST computers. CCAST account owners are also responsible for selecting appropriate directories for the most effective use of CCAST storage infrastructure. CCAST standard directories include:

1. $HOME: Home directory (/gpfs1/home/username) is intended for storing relatively small files such as source codes, executables, input files, etc that are globally needed across CCAST resources. The Home directory is not a directory designed to keep the output from CCAST account owners’ job executions. Running jobs from the Home directory is prohibited.  

2. $PROJECT: Projects directory (/gpfs1/projects/PI_username) is intended for sharing data within one research group. Each Principal Investigator (PI) has his/her own directory under the Projects directory. This directory is accessible to all group members.  

3. $SCRATCH: Global Scratch directory (/gpfs1/scratch/username) is intended for storing temporary data from CCAST account owners’ job runs and has the fastest access speed (hence cost). CCAST account owners may only keep temporary copies of data here. Global Scratch data may be automatically purged as needed to preserve sufficient free space for operation. It is the CCAST account holders’ responsibility to transfer valuable data to a permanent storage location, and users are encouraged to do so immediately after jobs terminate.

4. Local Scratch: Each node’s Local Scratch directory (/scratch) is intended for storing temporary data generated during the course of a single batch job. This directory is automatically purged when the corresponding PBS job terminates.

IV. Default Allocations

CCAST account owners are allocated 200 GB of HOME storage space. In addition, each PI and his/her research group have access to 1 TB of PROJECT space. There is no individual disk quota on the Global Scratch and Local Scratch directories and there is no guarantee of available storage. It is the CCAST account holders’ responsibility to transfer data prior to automatic purges.

V. Backup

HOME and PROJECTS directories are backed up periodically. The Global Scratch and Local Scratch directories are not backed up. Monthly backups sets will be retained for a period of 6 months.

VI. Application Software Installation Requests and Application Software Licenses

1. Single User/Single Project Application Software Installations

Installations of single user application software in CCAST account holders’ /home or /projects directories are the responsibility of the CCAST account owners. This software must be properly licensed and must be approved for use by NDSU. It is CCAST account holders’ responsibility to procure such proper licenses. 

2. Project-wide Application Software Installations

Installations of software to be used by a single research project may be installed using the CCAST modules system.

3. System-wide Application Software Installation Requests

All system-wide application software installation requests must be approved by CCAST administration prior to the purchase of the corresponding software licenses by the interested parties. Multiple-seat or site-licensed software is generally installed in a system-wide location and maintained by CCAST. Users of the system-wide application software in CCAST computing facility must comply with the terms of applicable license agreements. CCAST reserves the right to decline a request for installation of any particular application software deemed unsuitable for its environment.

VII. Queues

1. Overview

CCAST employs the PBSPro queuing system to ensure efficient and fair use of its computing resources. All computing jobs must be submitted through the queuing system.  Users have access to all of the queues listed below and should use queues which are most suitable for their workflows. Using shorter queues increases job turnaround, scheduler back-filling opportunities, fair share score, and priority.

2. Queues

See the CCAST User Guide for information on queue policies.

VIII. User-Procured Condominiums

Users are encouraged to partner with CCAST on the procurement of "condominium resorts". The “condominium” model for building HPC facilities is defined as the addition of a certain number of nodes and/or other equipment to a base facility by individual users who are allowed to maintain a higher level of queue policy control in their “resorts” in exchange for a contribution to CCAST operating costs. Prospective “condominium” owners should contact CCAST staff well in advance in order to budget “resorts” into their grant proposals. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between a “condominium” owner and CCAST must be signed before the purchase of the “condominium” equipment. CCAST will make all condo purchases.

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