Contribution of Computational Assets to SHARCNET

Contribution of Computational Assets to SHARCNET 2005-03-13


Researcher contributions to SHARCNET of computational infrastructure have enabled SHARCNET to substantially increase the computational resources available to the researcher community (almost doubling the aggregate capacity of the initial installation acquired through the first CFI funding round). This process has been facilitated by SHARCNET's focus on distributed and cluster computing, and by a good relationship with individual researchers.

It is a fundamental objective of SHARCNET to facilitate and foster such contributions. As an extension of this model, SHARCNET has also provided matching funds (from the sustaining fund) to augment researcher-initiated funding (typically CFI New Ops) to provide for larger or more efficient computational resources.

The purpose of this document is to describe a consistent set of conditions, procedures and expectations for such contributions. The document covers the conditions for installation, utilization, maintenance and decommissioning. The principles have been developed in conjunction with the research offices of Western and McMaster and have been approved by the SHARCNET Board.

It should be noted that since the partner institution retains the legal ownership of the contributed researcher-funded equipment, any agreement must satisfy the three parties involved: the researcher, her/his institution and SHARCNET.


  • Encourage continuation of the established process for contributions to SHARCNET computational resources for the mutual benefit of the researcher, institution and SHARCNET community.
  • Recognize past ad-hoc verbal practices in a more formal manner with supporting documentation.
  • Demonstrate due diligence that expenditures from the sustaining fund comply with agreements governing expenditures from that fund.
  • Clarify that any such contributed equipment is owned by the institution and delineate when its use and disposition is governed by the SHARCNET consortium agreement and when not.
  • Recognize that there is a fundamental relationship between the researcher and her/his institution governing the expenditure and use of research funds.
  • Recognize the fundamental relationship with respect to tangible assets between SHARCNET and the institution as a member of the consortium.
  • Ensure that expectations of the researcher, the member institution and SHARCNET are clearly outlined and accepted.

Process -- Key Steps and Activities

  • The researcher wishing to contribute equipment to SHARCNET or to access SHARCNET funds to support their purchase will contact SHARCNET and initiate discussions with the local site leader and system administrator to resolve any technical issues.
  • SHARCNET will advise the member institution via the Research Office that the process has been initiated.
  • The individual researcher and local site leader/system administrator will review the guidelines for contribution of assets.
  • If the researcher/institution wishes to access SHARCNET funds to support the purchase, the researcher submits a proposal to SHARCNET.
  • All equipment purchases are conducted by the host institution.
  • Should the purchase include a financial contribution by SHARCNET, SHARCNET will arrange to transfer funds to the institution.
  • Transfer of funds from SHARCNET to the institution will be via a letter of transfer outlining the conditions for use of funds and affirming that disposition of the assets is governed by the consortium agreement.
  • SHARCNET, the institution and the researcher will each receive a copy of a document detailing: a description of the equipment purchased; access rights beyond or different to those guaranteed to the researcher by ownership of the equipment; any special terms and conditions negotiated amongst the parties prior to finalizing the agreement; and conditions for withdrawal of the equipment by any of the parties.

Guidelines for Contribution of Assets to The SHARCNET Consortium

These guidelines apply to the contribution of computational assets by an individual researcher, researcher community or institution to the SHARCNET consortium. It is recognized that by this process there are mutual benefits both to the researcher and institution, who contribute the assets and to SHARCNET. The researcher and institution have the assurance of receiving professional administrative services for the computational assets contributed, as provided by the local SHARCNET system administrator. The researcher also has the benefit of access to increased computational assets on a preferential basis as determined on a "best efforts" basis by the SHARCNET system administrator. Through this process SHARCNET is able to acquire additional computational assets, to be made available to the researcher community. In the following the "researcher" is an academic member of a SHARCNET partner institution who is responsible for bringing the computational assets to SHARCNET; the "contributor" is the researcher's institution. This terminology recognizes that the researcher's institution is the legal owner of the contributed infrastructure. The following principles apply:
  1. The researcher has a current account with SHARCNET and his or her institution is a member in good standing under the Consortium Agreement.
  2. Potential researchers and/or contributors are encouraged to consult with SHARCNET prior to purchasing any equipment related to computational facilities to ensure compatibility with existing SHARCNET equipment, the computational infrastructure and SHARCNET system use policies.
  3. The contributor provides a complete description of computational assets, such as manufacturer, model, serial numbers, etc. for the equipment; this will ensure that equipment being contributed and the installation requirements are properly identified and documented.
  4. Equipment will normally be installed in the same location as existing SHARCNET computational infrastructure at the contributor's institutional site, to minimize connection costs and facilitate system administration by SHARCNET staff.
  5. SHARCNET will arrange for installation of contributed equipment, provided that the sharing of any incremental costs will be mutually agreed beforehand.
  6. SHARCNET, the researcher and the contributor will mutually agree beforehand on the duration of the support that SHARCNET will provide for the contributed infrastructure and the provisions that will apply when the equipment is decommissioned.
  7. A contribution may be withdrawn from SHARCNET on 60 days written notice provided that the contribution can be reasonably separated from other SHARCNET equipment. Costs associated with such a withdrawal will be borne by the contributor. Any components funded by SHARCNET shall remain within SHARCNET and be governed by the Consortium Agreement. A contribution that cannot reasonably be separated shall be governed by the terms of the Consortium Agreement. Withdrawal terms will be agreed to at the time of contribution.
  8. The researcher of the contributing member institution shall receive guaranteed access to the computational assets contributed, or equivalent, and to additional SHARCNET computational resources, on a "best efforts" basis. Typically, cycles unused in a particular time period cannot be "banked" against future requirements except with prior mutual agreement. The contributor and SHARCNET will agree on the preferential terms that the contributor expects and that SHARCNET can offer.
  9. Subject to the contributor's researcher's preferential use, the contributed computational assets shall be available for the use of and integration into the SHARCNET pool of resources and will be available to all researchers (internal and external) similar to all other SHARCNET computational assets.
  10. SHARCNET will provide all system administrative services for the equipment, including arranging for any warranty and maintenance services. The contributor is responsible for all warranty costs as part of the original purchase. Any additional maintenance and associated costs will be jointly shared by SHARCNET and the contributor by mutual agreement.