Division News

-----Computer Techniques seminar on Cloud Computing Today, 2:00PM in FCC1, presented by Kate Keaheay, University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory.

----- Cookie Caucus hosted by ESE: Friday, January 30th at 3:00PM in FCC1W.

----- Julia Yarba and Stephen Mrenna of the Physics Software Tools Group attended the CMS Advanced Monte Carlo Usage Workshop before the holidays.
The workshop brought together the primary users of the various Monte Carlo tools in CMS and the authors of the Monte Carlo programs to discuss their usage and limitations. Stephen, a co-author of the Pythia Monte Carlo and a member of CMS, served as a rapporteur for the sessions on “Theory Errors and Error Estimates” and “Validation of Monte Carlo Tools,” and made a presentation in the “Theory Error ...” session. Julia lead the tutorial session on using the various Monte Carlo tools in the CMS software environment and presented a talk on the status of a redesign of the CMS software interface to make it more flexible and less susceptible to user mistakes.

----- Travelers: DOE no longer requires trip reports; however, major highlights, benefits of the trip, and locations and results of meetings held must be reported. The forms that are filled out before your trip ("Benefit to the Government" and "Trip Justification") should satisfy these requirements. If more information is needed, the Administrative staff member who is handling your trip will send email. Please respond to such email promptly so that your trip may be closed out in a timely manner.

Carbon Monoxide Danger
Carbon Monoxide Gas
Carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless gas, takes the life of about 500 people a year in the US. Detectors can be purchased for as low as $20, and may save your life as well as your family's.

Carbon monoxide (CO), an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas, takes the lives of about 500 people each year in the U.S.

CO interferes with your body's ability to take in oxygen. At low-level concentrations, it can mimic flu-like symptoms that clear up after you leave the area and can cause chest pain in people with heart disease. When CO concentrations become higher, a person may experience impaired vision and coordination, headaches, dizziness, confusion, and nausea. And at very high concentrations, CO can be fatal.

CO can leak into your home through many sources: kerosene and gas space heaters, leaking chimneys and furnaces, gas water heaters, wood stoves, gas stoves, fireplaces, generators, and other gasoline-powered equipment; it can also get in through an attached garage.

As of January, 2007, the State of Illinois requires that a CO detector to be placed in every home--whether new construction or already existing. The detector should be placed within 15 feet of every room where someone sleeps. Detectors start at around $20, so if you haven't yet installed one, do so! If you have a detector installed, good for you! But don't forget to change the batteries each year! Make a New Year resolution to keep you and your family safe!


OSG All Hands Meeting
Livingston, Louisiana March 2-6, 2009

CHEP 09 - International Conference On Computing In High Energy Physics And Nuclear Physics
Prague, Czech Republic
March 21-27, 2009

ICWM2009 - 4th International Workshop on Workflow Management
Geneva, Switzerland
May 4-8, 2009

23rd IEEE International Symposium on Parallel & Distributed Processing
Rome, Italy
May 25-29, 2009

More Conferences



Sasha Sena Segbawu was born January 6, 2009, weighing  6 pounds, 10 ounces, and having a height of 20 inches. Parents are Nana and Ben Segbawu (LSCS/CSI/Desktop and Server Support). Sasha joins big sister, Daisi, at home.

Tony (SCF/CMS Computing Facilities/CMS Grid Services) and Mary Tiradani proudly announce the birth of their daughter:  Tessa Tiradani was born at 4:29 pm on Saturday, January 17,  2009 weighing 8 pounds, 2 ounces, and having a height of 20 inches.

Job Anniversaries this Month
(5, 10, 15 & 20+ years)

Gerry Bellendir - 40 years
Mark Leininger - 33 years
Frank Nagy - 29 years
Hank Connor - 26 years
Mike Behnke - 25 years
Rich Thompson - 25 years
Don Petravick - 24 years
Steve Wolbers - 24 years
Liz Sexton-Kennedy - 21 years
Margaret Votava - 21 years
Terrance Jones - 20 years
Ron Rechenmacher - 20 years

Letter from Vicky
Vicky White

Time is flying by and already we are one month into a new year. Best wishes to all for a happy and healthy 2009 are a bit late, but nonetheless sincere. 

While the calendar year is a time for personal reflection and resolutions, the fiscal year is the one that most affects our work behavior. We are already more than one quarter of the way through this FY09 fiscal year and we are starting to carry out many of our plans for the year. I am very encouraged by what I have seen so far in terms of moving us forward, even though money is tight while we wait for a real budget from the congress. Nevertheless we are making progress on many fronts in every quadrant of the division. People are really thinking about how to establish new services and clean up existing services in an ITIL framework. People are working together to try to buy things in a more consolidated and standard way, with less risk. I see department heads working with each other to deal with staff shortages and, in some cases, to move people between departments in order to better align peoples' skills and desires with the work we need to get done—and get done well. I see a great sense of pride in doing things well and serving our customers well. There are more scientific projects on the horizon now and we are getting involved and helping to move these forward, both as scientists and as technical staff. Mu2E, DUSEL, JDEM, MINERvA, MicroBooNE, and NOvA are now receiving some attention as they get going, along with the more established efforts towards SDSS, DES, CDMS, Pierre Auger, MiniBooNE, COUPP, MINOS, Lattice QCD, Computational Cosmology, ILC—and of course CMS, CDF, and D0. Some new small projects in computer science research in networking and petascale tools are also getting funded and starting up.  

Thank you to everyone for your enthusiasm and hard work and adaptability. And please keep up the good work and the fantastic safety record. Let's not slip up!


Central Services Restructuring
Reorg Guy

In order to better align with the business needs of the Computing Division and the laboratory, the Central Services & Infrastructure (CSI) department is being restructured on February 2nd.

The restructuring--the result of ITIL recommendations that an organization should not only reflect the current services it offers, but also should take into account future goals and directions--will attempt to leverage personnel resources with the need to investigate and design new products and solutions while maintaining operational support for all the services it provides.

Here is a brief rundown of the new groups:

Service Desk: Formerly known as “Help Desk,” the Service Desk will be the portal to IT services for the lab. It will be responsible for notifications to customers and support personnel about new services and service disruptions, incident management, service requests and limited daily operations. (There is more about near-term changes to the Service Desk below.)

Desktop and Server: These groups will be managed based on the operating systems they support because of the common infrastructure needs of each OS. The groups will review, secure and support the various OS's and the systems that run them, (i.e., anti-virus software, patching, inventory, packaging, software distribution, and hardware recommendations).

Backup & Storage: All centrally managed storage related activities (i.e., AFS, backups, NAS, NAS A/V, and SAN) come under this umbrella. This group will recommend and implement different levels of storage based on customer needs and will provide system support.

Web & Collaboration: This group will provide web site design guidelines and web server software baseline support, review web applications (i.e., blogs, wikis, SharePoint, InDiCo), and provide guidance on usage and support to users.

Messaging: All messaging services at the lab (i.e., email, calendaring, mail lists, and video conferencing) will be managed by this group, and the group will recommend mobile device platforms.

Directory Service: This group will be responsible for directory services and authentication (i.e., Windows Domain and the LDAP and KCA services). They will also provide central SMS service support.

The transition of duties is expected to take place over five months, depending on the progress of various projects.

~Jack Schmidt

Coming Soon: New Help Desk System
Remedy Requestor Console ViewScreenshot of the new Remedy console view when a requestor is logged in to the Service Desk.
(click for larger image.)

Very soon, you will begin to see changes to the Computing Help Desk system. First of all, in order to better reflect its role as the portal to IT services for the lab, the name “Help Desk” will change to “Service Desk.” The Service Desk will become the central place for incident reporting, service-related messages and requests, and some daily operations.

CSI will roll out a new version of Remedy in late February or early March. From a user's perspective, it will function in a way similar to that of the current system, but there will be a new portal, or interface. This system will provide more efficient routing of incidents governed by routing rules linked to services. Access to the system is through the new site LDAP authentication service.

The new remedy system has a variety of enhancements that aid users in the proper entry of an incident, the ability to see their open incidents (tickets) and the status of each. (Experts will be able to see tickets they've submitted as well as tickets that have been assigned to them.) Eventually, there will also be a knowledge base that, during the ticket creation process, will allow users to associate similar incidents to a solution; the problem may potentially be solved without a service ticket having to be opened. The evolution to this and other features will take place over time, as the knowledge base is built and the system matures in general.

As with the restructuring of the CSI Department, changes will take place to the Service Desk over time.

~Allen Forni & Marcia Teckenbrock

Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto
STK Tape Robot
This Storage Tek tape robot is one of six older tape libaries that the SSA group plans to decomission by May as new ones have been purchased to replace them.

Remember the good ol' days, when data tapes were manually mounted into a tape drive by a person? It's a good thing we have robots to do that now, considering the 14PB and growing amount of data we have on tape, which is managed by the Storage Services Administration (SSA) group in the Data Movement and Storage department. The group, led by Stan Naymola, is in charge of the mass storage system at Fermilab.

Tape storage in a centrally-managed system is more cost-effective and has better long-term stability than storage on local disks. Data written to tape is kept in robotically automated tape libraries, which are accessed by a combination of Sun Microsystems software that keeps track of where each tape volume resides in the library and Fermilab's Enstore software, which transparently manages user requests for reading and writing files to the tapes. Enstore also provides for monitoring and maintenance of the tape libraries. Users access the data over the network using an Enstore command line program on their local computers.

The Power of a Purchase

Recently, Stan's group was involved in a project to purchase and install two new tape robots for the lab. The CMS experiment, which is expected to write about 5 PB of data to tape each year, commissioned the purchase in order to be ready for the startup of the LHC, but others will also make use of this storage.

The process of procuring the libraries, along with everything that goes with it--the maintenance plan, fire suppression mechanism, and the tape drives to go inside—took more than two months. Now housed at FCC and GCC, the libraries connect to the three pre-existing ones with pass-through ports. Robots inside these connected libraries can work in coordination to pass a tape from one library to an available tape drive in another.

The new purchase adds 20,000 slots for tape cartridges, for a total of 50,000. Current technology allows for 800GB per slot, but by early 2010, the storage capacity of each tape is expected to double. The current mass storage capacity, figuring in expected technology improvements, should last at least into FY2010, depending on when the LHC starts up.

Moving Data, a Perpetual Process

In addition to these five newer libraries, there are six older ones nearing the end of their service life. As part of their decommissioning, the data contained in them needs to be migrated to newer, denser, tape media in the new libraries. The migration process begins with moving the old data to a migration station, from which it is written to new media in the new libraries. This operation is performed as transparently as possible to the users using Enstore tools. Eventually, the old tapes are removed from the library and the library decommissioned. Along the way, a lot of special checks and monitoring are done to be sure the data being moved is valid and is an exact copy of the original.

Of course, migration is an ongoing process. Data must be moved onto denser tapes in order to free up space in the tape libraries, to move the data off of technology that has reached its end of service life, and to “refresh” the media in order to decrease the chance of data loss due to tape wear or cartridge failure.

~Gene Oleynik, Stan Naymola, and Marcia Teckenbrock