Since late in 1997, planning for HPCVL assumed some sort of access fee. Researchers at Queen's University, for example, were polled in late 1997 on their willingness to pay a modest fee from research grants to help purchase and maintain a computer to replace the existing IBM SP2. Subsequently, HPCVL was formed. Its efforts to obtain government funding (from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), from various Ontario agencies, and from NSERC), led to many discussions about the value of the proposed facilities to the researchers at member institutions, at other institutions, including industry.
During these discussions, we recognized that the institutions comprising HPCVL contributed significant resources not only in the application process but also in the operating budget as cash and in-kind. We also recognized that HPCVL was required by CFI to make 20% of its CFI-funded facilities available to researchers outside its member institutions. Because researchers at other institutions were mentioned in our applications as potential users of the proposed facilities, we assumed that fair sharing is an important component of this policy. CFI regulations governing our Innovation Fund HPC awards state that external users cannot be charged more than internal users (as part of the 20% availability commitment).
When applying for grants, HPCVL has consistently stated that an access fee would be collected and that the fee would be used to help cover a portion of our operating expenses. For budgeting purposes, the fee was treated as a portion of the each member institution's contributions (for internal users).
Access to HPCVL is open to all researchers at member institutions and to selected researchers from across Canada. The principle has been included in all funding applications.
Five Access categories were created to respond to the needs of both academic and industrial users. A General Institutional Access category fits researchers in general. Because some researchers require access to larger resources than others, HPCVL established an Enhanced Institutional Access category. For example, researchers requiring 60 CPUs to be dedicated to their work for a short period of time or at a higher priority as the work is be under time constraint would pay a higher access fee. Because some researchers also perform contract research, a Contractual Research Institutional Access category was established. A Private Sector Access category allows HPCVL to attract companies interested in using HPCVL's facilities. Finally, to broaden the user base, HPCVL recognizes that a short trial period may be granted to potential new users under the Provisional Access category.
Category 1 is primarily aimed at an PI supporting a relatively small team of graduate students, post-docs, and research associates using the HPCVL facilities.
Category 1 level access includes the following services:
Category 2 is primarily aimed at PIs with large teams and/or large resource requirements.
The Enhanced Access category includes the following services:
The Contractual Research Institutional Access category is aimed at researchers performing contract research. Fees will be negotiated on a case-by-case basis for more flexibility (cf. Category III of the Access Fee Schedule). Researchers are required to disclose any use of HPCVL resources for contract purposes so that appropriate action, if needed, can be taken to ensure that software licenses and other agreements are not endangered.
The Private-Sector category is aimed at companies interested in purchasing access to the HPCVL resources. Fees for this category must be negotiated on a case-by-case basis (cf. Category IV of the Access Fee Schedule).
This category is aimed at potential new users desiring a short trial period before they join HPCVL. The provisional access category is left to the discretion of the Executive Director and is conditional on the availability of resources.
Each user must agree to abide by the HPCVL Usage and Security policies and practices, as well as, any other policies established by the HPCVL Board of Trustees. It is emphasized that:
The need to meet various funding agency reporting requirements that can withstand an actual audit means that:
Access fees are administered in the following ways: