[Bioclusters] Re: Business-ish stuff: monitoring cluster usage, and how to pay for it all

John Van Workum bioclusters@bioinformatics.org
Thu, 26 Sep 2002 15:45:43 -0400

Hello Tim,

I'm new to this list and came across your post. I'm actually in this business. Here are some of my responses to your

>1.  What charging scheme do you use?  Options range from a one-off "lifetime
>membership" charge for a whole company or university to charging by the
>wallclock or CPU minute.

- We charge by wall-clock, broken down by CPU/hour

>2.  How much interest do you have from the commercial sector for using up
>unused clock cycles?  Is this a useful approach for meeting costs?

- Some interest from companies looking for computing resources, but not overwhelming.

>3.  How do you prioritize these users fairly?

- Each user has the same priority. Nodes can be "dedicated" to a user but that user is charged for hours even when not
in use.

>4.  Do you have a way of deciding how many nodes should be allocated to a
>particular batch task, based on the number and size of other batch requests
>that have occurred or are likely to occur?

- Users specify how may nodes they want to use (they have to pay for it). If the nodes are available, the batch job is

>5.  Are there particular usage patterns you have discovered (e.g. length and
>frequency of batch jobs, number of nodes requested or allocated etc.), which
>are important to take into account?

- Node requests range from just a single node up to dozens of nodes. It all depends on the user. Every user requires
something unique. Have you thought about the time spent supporting these users?

>6.  (More technical)  Is there any software you would recommend for
>collected this information automatically?

- Most batch systems (schedulers) have some sort of accounting built in. We happen to use OpenPBS (with customizations)
and Condor.

>At the moment we are planning to allow an initial 6-month period of free
>access to any user, to determine the level of interest in using such a
>system, the kinds of usage patterns and to build up an idea of how to manage
>the system as we go along, but it would be really beneficial to hear from
>others who have been there.

- We did the same thing.

>Please let me know if there are any further details you need to know.  I
>look forward to your comments!

- Actually, I have some other ideas and ways I can help if you wish to discuss them offline.

Best regards,

John Van Workum
Tsunamic Technologies Inc.