Tuesday, April 13, 2010

User support and services

There were a number of talks at the 'User support and services' yesterday, which can be grouped into two distinct themes. The first of these - centrally provided services, and the change for the future, covered three services: GGUS, the ticketing service; Application porting; and Training. The other theme was more about work on the ground, and how that builds up into user communities - overall a nice mix of top down and bottom up thinking.

In the GGUS talk the point was made that with a higher degree of federation, there is more, not less, need for a central point for reporting issues. However, the maintenance will need adjusted a bit, with the change to 30 NGI's, rather than 12 regions. Fairly straightfoward, in principle.

From Application porting, one interesting observation was that use of the service was 31 applications thus far, over 2 years. These were clustered geographically around the centres doing the porting - which is a good hint that this is a service that will be better provisioned by NGI's, rather than a central service. It's a curious observation, and I'm sure there's some interesting social science questions underlying that - but overall good news that it appears to be best at the NGI level, given that it's going to be devolved to NGI's! The rest of the talk about Application porting was more or less the general observations from most software consultant engineering.

The User Training side was again looking at the EGI future, where training is mostly an NGI task, with a small coordination effort at the EGI level. This will be about maintaining a library, trainer registry and events database; with the work to now including a 'training the trainer' component.

The other theme was Dug, talking about our experiences at Glasgow with many small VO's; which I knew quite well, as I was involed in that. The main lessons were that, in general, user don't want to use the Grid - they just want their results! So for small VO's, it can be worth writing a short shell script to make that easy for them, rather than spending a lot of time teaching them the middleware. There was also an apect of whipping CREAM into shape, to support what people wanted to do - rather than getting people to adapt to the tech.

Overall, an interesting session, and a good way to start the conference.

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