Friday, April 27, 2012

Communicating with Users, What are you selling?

HPC admins often must provide support for their systems. Not all admins like to do this, but most times the generic help desk at our institutions do not have the Linux experience or the HPC specific knowledge to be of much use. Thus HPC operators and admins find that they are often double duty, operating and supporting their systems as the only tier of usable support.

Understand what your goal is as an HPC provider. Is it to just run computers and make sure they work well enough to not get laid off?  Andrew Caird at U of M (and my director), put it best.

      "We don't like computers, we like computing. If we could do that without computers we would". 

We sell the end result. This requires inputs; hardware infrastructure, software infrastructure, code, input, and interpretation. Focus on the getting to the end result of an HPC workflow. We should focus our interactions with users, PI, administration towards getting to these end results.  Never only be a hardware/Linux/computer geek.  We should all hate computers, love the computing.

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