HPC-SIG Meeting, 2023-06-13, Bath

Location: University of Bath

Welcome and Chair’s Business 

  • The Bath team welcomed us all and set out the practicalities for the day
  • Ed gave a brief overview of recent and future meetings up to the middle of 2024
  • Steven gave an update on the new EDIA role in the exec and the election to it. We have no candidates at this stage, but are having some informal conversations

HPC-SIG Mentorship Programme (pilot)

  • Ed gave an overview of the new mentorship programme for sysadmins. This will be free, with only a regular time commitment required. The programme will be launched in September.

Developing Career Pathways at UCL, Owain Kenway

  • Owain gave a fascinating presentation on the new approach to careers (and other things) at UCL ARC.

How to apply for a job – advice on application forms and interviews in Research Computing, Andrew (Ed) Edmondson

  • Ed gave a presentation giving hints and tips for when people are applying for a job in research computing – from choosing the job to apply for through filling in the paperwork to the interview itself. Slide deck: 2023-06-13-How-to-apply-for-a-job-in-HPC.pptx

Reaching the Cloud for High Performance Computing, Stefano Angioni and James Davenport

  • James and Stefano explained Bath’s experience of moving their HPC into the commercial cloud.

Archer2 NetZero Case Study, Andy Turner

  • Andy gave a presentation talking about the complexities of aiming for Net Zero in HPC. This is not as simple as just reducing electricity costs, but is a different mix of priorities depending on your location, environment, hardware and other things.

Parallel Session: Technical 

Lightning talks  

  • Automating migration of cryo-EM data – Charles Roberts (Oxford University)
  • High Performance Computing at QMUL – Julita Inca Chiroque (Queen Mary University of London)
  • An Overview of SPANK – Sam Gallop (University of East Anglia)
  • Integrating Netbox as a Source of truth – Derek Ross (STFC)
  • WIPP – an interface for processing microscopy data – Thomas Green (Prifysgol Caerdydd/Cardiff University)

Parallel Session: Management/strategic 

Lightning talks 

  • Jisc Updates, Christopher Walker
  • Initiatives for future HPC system administrators, Daniel Gleed


  • JISC are gathering requirements sites need for remote hosted facilities.
    • Direct liquid cooled, with 100-120kW power densities per rack. Separate environments (rooms) for DLC compute and air-cooled storage.
    • JISC have offered a follow up talk on data centres
  • Daniel shared their experiences with their apprenticeship programme
  • Discussion on improving user experiences
    • Highlighting the importance of good documentation, best practices in using systems. Recognised that the user community are asking more complex and more involved questions and are looking for more tailored and personalised responses.
    • Touched on building an active and engaged user community.
  • Storing sensitive data
    • Recognised the need to get information governance closely involved – how do we manage and secure data.
    • As part of good data management practices, need to be able to delete and completely remove the data off the system – are the current sets of tools capable of doing this?
    • How to manage sharing data across many different cloud platforms

Future Topics

  • JISC data centre contracts
  • Federated storage
  • Experiences from sites storing sensitive data
  • Best practices in creating communities of practice and improving user engagement 

Wrap up, notices  

  • Ed thanked our hosts in Bath
  • We were reminded about the upcoming mentoring programme
  • All were encouraged to come to the next meeting in Cardiff in September