You must be this tall to ride...
Using a computer is like driving a car. You start as a passenger. When you get your license you learn skills that will serve you well up to about 100 MPH and you learn when to go to a mechanic. When you learn to race, you learn new skills that will serve you up to about 200 MPH and you become a close partner with your mechanic. Beyond 200 MPH you drive only on very specialized tracks with very specialized vehicles and you're part of the engineering team.
Your personal computing equipment is like your personal car. It's comfortable. It's personal. And it's relatively easy, inexpensive, and universal. Personal computing equipment is the domain of Enterprise IT. They are the Fords, GM, Chrysler's of the computing world. Fortunately, the Enterprise IT and Research Computing teams at NDSU get along well. That is NOT usually the case, for a wide variety of reasons, largely around the fact that they are different domains both with very skilled people passionate about serving their customers well.
The "race" computing is the domain of CCAST at NDSU. We are the local race track and we have race cars, but we don't (yet) have a training program for race car drivers. You will need to be an excellent regular driver and to learn new skills/tools appropriate to racing. We can point you to some materials/classes and we provide some training/consulting. You can count on us to be your pit crew and track manager, but you'll have to learn how to drive/race.
We have resources appropriate for the 100 - 200 MPH range. We don't have ALL the resources appropriate for that range, but we know where to find most of the ones we don have and we're intersted in learning about ones we don't yet know about. Just like there are many styles of racing ( stock car, formula one, drag strip, monster truck, ...) there are many styles of research computing. We will NOT be able to build all of the relevant ones at NDSU/CCAST (too expensive) so our strategy will be to build some and find partners for the rest. We are beginning our search for partners and would welcome your input on possible candidates and priorities. We expect that working out the business arrangements with these partners will not be trivial nor transparent, so bear with us. We are breaking new ground in the Research Computing world here.
The "world record" computing is the domain of the National and International Centers. This is the Bonneville Salt Flats where the rocket cars run ! Computing in this realm is VERY competitive and requires yet another set of skills beyond the 200 MPH range. In the US, the biggest players in this realm are at NSF and DOE. XSEDE, Blue Waters, OSG, NERSC, INCITE are all programs relevant to this class of computing and all have competitive programs for researchers to gain access to their resources. They vary in difficulty from the OSG (easy) to Blue Waters/INCITE (hardest). We can help you with examples of successful proposals, collaboration opportunities, startup allocations (in some cases) and advice on which program/resource best matches your research. However, you will have to invest time and energy similar to writing another funding proposal to get a full allocation for major computing work.
One final word of advice: Working with High Performance Computing is like running a marathon, not a sprint. You will have to work at it and there will be pain involved, but with time and persistence you will get good at it and you will be able to accomplish great things. We'll be there along the way to cheer you on. All the best of luck to you and we look forward to a marvelous partnership !!
Your next step is here
Dane Skow, Executive Director of CCAST