Methodology matters and DST has developed and proven a set of practices for each service offerings to create a higher level of success for our customers. Our methodology has bedrock principles of systematic communication, powerful collaboration and tools, user group empowerment, documentation disciplines and accountability.

Systematic communication: HPC Consulting, On Demand and Operational Management Systems include remote weekly meeting updates. Our agenda is always look back, look up and look forward with the simple objective for you to never have more than a week without a status update. On our calls we look back at what has been accomplished or happened over the past week, we look up to the work at hand and status of the cluster current state and finally we look forward to the coming week for planning priorities to make sure we are mapped to your priorities for the week ahead.

Collaboration: Our underlying philosophy is one of team extension – we are the customer’s bench and want to always operate in support of your team in a collaborative fashion. DST uses powerful collaboration tools, project management tools and systematic communication to make sure we are always interactive members of your team. We believe and invest in technical account managers with project management back grounds and grade A level technical people so every effort undertaken has the proper senior level engineering and business resource. The investment in the business resource ensures collaboration, systematic communication, and documentation is front of mind not an afterthought.

User Empowerment: At the end of the day we provide two valuable services — Peace of Mind and the ability to Do More Science. Empowering your users helps the user community Do More Science. HPC is an important tool for research scientists. Our methodology puts significant efforts on empowering the scientist. We deploy Educational Portals for the research users offering important educational information to the community specific to your environment. The educational portal also delivers a collaboration platform so researchers can load scripts or other data to help their community. We offer help desk services for the scientists to enhance cluster use, work flow assistance or scripting help, complete with onsite workshops to for the user community.

Accountability: We have chosen accountability as the corner stone of DST’s methodology. Our philosophy is for the DST team to become an extension of you and your team and as such we are accountable to you for everything we do. Further, we believe that accountability is fundamental to the success of any endeavor. We have tools and disciplined practices in place to provide as close to complete visibility as is possible. Our process brings transparency into the work we are engaged in, the systems we are working on and the time we are allocating to assist you.

Methodology use case: Our HPC Operational Management System offers the ability for research environments to focus on science while DST assumes the operational management of the scientist HPC tool. We become the day to day care taker of the cluster. An example of our systematic methodology is in the On Boarding process we developed for our HOMs customers below.

DST HOMs is designed to make us an extension of the existing HPC team. Our methodology to on-board HOMS is accomplished in the following steps.

STEP 1: We define the parameters of the existing environment for HOMS in an agreement that outlines all expectations and services to do operational management for compute, scripting, cluster and pipeline management, file systems and operational hardware support. The customized support plan is outlined in the initial SOW.

STEP 2: Our onboarding methodology for including your cluster into HOMS encompasses the following components.

  • DOCUMENTATION: physical and logical environment, workflows, contact info for key stakeholders in the community and key vendors making up the HPC.
  • CREDENTIALS: internal credential requirements and external vendor credentials so DST might open tickets with the vendors when necessary.
  • CUSTOMIZED WIKI: through a series of Webex sessions, the DST team will assemble the information necessary to start the Wiki. Our detailed deployment of the Wiki includes cluster policy statements, documentation, end user forums for education, informative papers, and FAQ’s.
  • CUSTOMIZED SUPPORT TICKETING SYSTEM: While the HOMS team will respond within its SLAs, we identify individuals within the organization who also need the ability to monitor activity and occasionally assist on critical events.
  • CLUSTER IMPROVEMENT REPORT: At the end of the onboarding process outlining the immediate efficiencies based on the findings in the documentation phase. Our efficiency recommendations deliver changes which if implemented should improve performance, space management or operations.

STEP 3: Assume operational management of the cluster. DST will respond to all end user requests, provide daily, weekly and monthly management functions for the cluster (software updates, patches etc.), and monitor the performance, space utilization and more on a daily basis. Operational management includes:

  • Real time dashboards for systems under management
  • Weekly Reports and review meetings
  • Weekly Wiki enrichment – content adds
  • “How are we doing?” customer satisfaction survey sent after every ticket with customer sat data aggregated into a report for review on the weekly calls
  • Operational management of system – daily, weekly, monthly by DST
  • Trouble shooting and problem resolution by DST with the HPC vendors. We open tickets and manage them to completion, holding vendors’ accountable and reporting back to you on an ongoing basis.

STEP 4: Quarterly review meetings. This interactive engagement delivers an in depth review of current cluster performance, ticket resolution, vendor issues, and operational efficiencies. We also create a quarterly plan to educate newly added HPC end users scheduled for implementation over the next.

Who is DST? Our customers say we’ve been insanely helpful in making the experience for their researchers the best it can be.