--- Computing picnic Friday, Sept. 12, at Kuhn Barn in the Fermilab Village. Join us between noon and 2 p.m. for hot dogs, burgers, veggie burgers, tossed salad, pasta salad, dessert and refreshments.

--- Computing Techniques Seminar: "Dealing with Trends in modern day Data Storage: The Evolution of Object-Based Storage to Enable Large Scale Distributed Research Computing." Speaker:  Jacob Farmer, Chief Technology Officer, Cambridge Computer - Tuesday, Sept. 9, 1 p.m., WH Curia II. View abstract

--- Wednesday, July 30 to Friday, August 1 was the annual meeting of the SciDAC (Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing) principal investigators (PI) in Washington D.C. Under the aegis of DOE’s Advanced Scientific Computing Research program, SciDAC facilitates and promotes projects aiming to advance science by using advanced computing. As the PI for SciDAC’s ComPASS project, utilizing high-performance computing for accelerator design and optimization, Computing’s Panagiotis Spentzouris gave an overview of the accomplishments and progress made by ComPASS over the past three years. See the slides from this talk on the FCC lobby display monitors and here.

--- From Fermilab Today: The new Scientific Linux website, which rolled out Aug. 26, boasts a robust new architecture. The scalable design will allow Scientific Linux developers to continue to identify opportunities for automation so that they are delivering the freshest news, updates and content. The Fermilab Scientific Linux team has already integrated aspects of the development workflow for automatic posting of updates. It has also introduced a blog to provide insight into the developers' technical and philosophical thoughts and ideas.

The team views these new website features as just the beginning in our renewed focus to further grow the Scientific Linux collaboration with other international institutions.

--- From Fermilab Today: "Fermilab hosts first
C++ school for next generation of particle physics
"

--- Adrienne Kolb, archivist and historian in CCD’s Information Resources department, has written a book on the history of the Superconducting Super Collider which has just been accepted for publication by the University of Chicago Press. Congratulations, Adrienne!

--- Preparing a Fermilab presentation or building a Fermilab website? Need business cards? Writing a formal letter or memorandum? Please see this link for Fermilab templates, procedures and standards as well as contact information if you require more assistance.

--- Upcoming SharePoint training - September 19

SharePoint for Contributers (end-users) 10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
More information/enroll.

SharePoint Designer Training - 1 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
More information/enroll.

SharePoint Site Owner introductory training - 3 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
More information/enroll.

Saving money with PC Refresh
Quinton Healy, head of Desktop Engineering.


The world of computing is constantly changing. To meet the changes Quinton Healy, head of the Desktop Engineering group, and his team implemented the PC Refresh program. Now in its third year, the program is designed to help ensure that Fermilab-owned computers stay as current as possible while retiring older models.

“The point of the program is to make sure that everybody in the lab has up-to-date hardware on the machine they use day in and day out,” says Healy.

Not only does Desktop Engineering look for machines that are energy efficient and most suitable for the work being done, but they also look to buy in bulk to save money.

“This year we ordered $174,000 worth of machines, and we saved about $23,000 by ordering in bulk. That’s about thirteen percent savings,” says Healy. “In 2013, we ordered about $185,000, and we saved about $21,000. That is about 11 percent discount.”

By replacing an old machine with a new one, the lab can also save on software licensing costs.

How does the program work? Each year the Desktop Engineering group gathers data about the hardware of the computers being used at Fermilab to make recommendations on which to replace.

“We look at all the property listed as ‘active’ and look for only desktops and laptops,” says Healy. “That gives us a list of machines that we sort by division, and then hand over to the business analysts to work with their contacts.” When possible, the group also suggests a new model with similar functionality to the old. “To the best of our ability, we give them recommendations based on what they have, comparing that to what we offer through the technology store.”

In addition to saving money, the program streamlines the PC-ordering process. 

“[You don’t have to] worry about putting in your own recommendations, your own justifications, your own quotes. We provide as much data as we can to the division sections so they can make an educated guess on the purchase.” 

Desktop Engineering hopes this program will be adopted by an increasingly wide population to help Fermilab users stay current with their computing needs.

~ Byron Mcguire

August Anniversaries
(5, 10, 15, and 20+ years)

Edith Brown - 40 years
Stu Fuess - 33 years
Rick Kwarciany - 31 years
Paul Lebrun - 31 years
Eileen Berman - 29 years
John Chramowicz - 28 years
Rick Van Conant - 28 years
Vyto Grigaliunas - 27 years
Mark Kaletka - 25 years
Panagiotis Spentzouris - 25 years
Hans Wenzel - 23 years
Robert Illingworth - 15 years
Anita Menz-Cwiklik - 15 years
Mike Rosier - 15 years
Alan Prosser - 10 years
Neha Sharma - 10 years

ESH&Q: Safe battery recycling

Remember, Fermilab has a recycling program for alkaline batteries. Battery recycling containers are located at each administrative personnel’s work area for your convenience.

Please be sure to tape all 9-volt battery terminals before placing them into the recycling container. It prevents the terminals from contacting other batteries, which could start a fire.

~ Amy Pavnica

-- Now playing in the FCC lobby:

The Consumerization of Enterprise Services: How Fermilab is
achieving service delivery excellence across and beyond IT
, Tammy Whited, NLIT 2014, June 29 – July 2

Modernizing application integrations with a data
integration hub
, Scott Nolan, NLIT 2014, June 29 – July 2

ComPASS: Advanced Computation for HEP Accelerator
Science and Technology
, Panagiotis Spentzouris, 2014 SciDAC PI Meeting, July 30 – August 19

CS All Hands Meeting, Rob Roser, CS all-hands meeting, June 13

 

From the CIO: Priorities

One of my main goals in 2015 is to do a better job of establishing and communicating the OCIO’s priorities to each and every one of you. Traditionally, it seems that Fermilab has two settings when it comes to priorities: either highest or non-existent. In the past, it appeared that everything we did was Priority One. 

I think we all realize that such an attitude is silly.  We don’t have the resources to make each and every activity top priority. We need to make choices based on both what we in computing want to accomplish and what we as a laboratory need to accomplish.

My goal is for each person to understand what priorities are set for the lab and for computing, and thus be able to make decisions on their time allocation based on those priorities. I feel that right now, we as a laboratory are not in synch. And that is hurting us.

We in computing can do our part by establishing clear priorities and communicating them effectively to each other. I am struggling to find a way to do that in a way that is useful. I don’t think that me stating priorities in this monthly column is sufficient. I also don’t think that a quarterly all-hands meeting will accomplish the goal of increased clarity and transparency.

Do you have any suggestions?

I am leaning toward literally posting a list in FCC and WH numbered from 1 to N, but even that doesn’t capture the nuances that are sometimes required to make the right decision when conflicts arise.

If you have thoughts about this—please talk to me. I will try some approach this fall, and we can refine it as we go. Next year’s budgets are challenging, and we need to be able to focus on our primary priorities if we are to make progress in this challenging environment.

~Rob Roser

Enterprise architecture at Fermilab

We all strive for efficiency in our daily routines. As individuals, we do this on a small scale, working within given structures and processes. As an organization, we all try to ensure changes we introduce, resources we use and processes we follow are the best match and the most efficient set up for our organization’s aims and goals.  This is where The Office of Enterprise Architecture, headed by Scott Nolan, comes in.

A few minutes with Scott.

What is Enterprise Architecture (EA)?

“There are varying definitions of Enterprise Architecture. From our perspective, it is a process that establishes EA principles and standards that will help guide consistent and efficient decision making. These principles and standards will then form the basis for developing models and plans (“road maps”) for getting from where the organization is to a future state that more efficiently and effectively supports the laboratory’s strategic agenda and goals.”


Who works in EA at Fermilab?

“I am the head of the Office of Enterprise Architecture (OEA). The office also has two contractors, Krysia Jacobs and Ken Ponder, who are building out the EA Program, developing architecture artifacts (“models”, “road maps”, etc.) and working on projects that need help with various architecture aspects.  In addition, we recently incorporated the Scientific Technical Architecture group, which focuses on scientific specific architectures, into the OEA.  Keith Chadwick and Ruth Pordes will continue to provide focus on science-specific architectures in addition to other EA work.  We also work closely with other groups and subject matter experts as needed.”

Interrupting a meeting: the Enterprise Architecture group at work with the Scientific Technical Architecture group. Left: Keith Chadwick, STA; Ken Ponder, EA. Right: Krysia Jacobs, EA; Scott Nolan, EA.

What are some of the projects EA works on?

“The Office of EA has been focusing heavily on Fermilab’s “business” computing.  For example, we recently finished working with the FermiWorks project team helping to define and implement an enterprise data integration system for use in moving and translating data between FermiWorks and the laboratory’s legacy information systems. This data integration system will help move the laboratory from using complicated point-to-point integrations to a hub and spoke system that is easier to operate and maintain and  will help simplify support and future integrations.  In addition, we have been working with the lab-wide Budget and Planning project team on developing a request for proposal for a budget and planning system.”

 “We are also reviewing all of the applications that the computing organization supports, “the application portfolio.” As a part of this we are documenting their functions, capabilities and other aspects in an effort to rationalize them (i.e. looking for opportunities for consolidation, better utilization, or modernization).”

What are some of the challenges you face?

“Getting people to understand what EA is and ensuring broader EA adoption within the laboratory is critically important. Just like an architect who helps you design your new house, we want to help ensure that the computing systems meet the needs of the laboratory from a holistic standpoint.  We realize that identifying, recommending, and supporting the most efficient, cost effective technologies can sometimes mean that not everyone gets their favorite choice. However, the goal is to free up resources and increase efficiency so that the laboratory can make the best use of its limited resources.”

How do you get started on a project?

“Projects come up in various ways. The most common is through our integration with the IT Service Management Change Advisory Board (CAB) and Computing Project Office project processes. For example, in the CAB process, we review all the major changes to ensure they are aligned with the goals and strategies for the laboratory and the computing organization. On computing projects, we can be involved from a variety of aspects such as providing input on RFPs or making recommendations on emerging technologies to consider when pursuing new solutions.” 

We start by researching and developing an understanding about the current state, technology options and requirements for each project. This is followed by collaborative meetings with all of the different stakeholders to develop and document a clear understanding of the desired future state and a plan to get there.”

~ Clementine Jones, Scott Nolan and Jin Chang

Farha Bhimji
CCD/Network and
Communications Services/Audio and Video Conferencing

I started working at Fermilab in November 2013 as an IT Associate. I am eager to learn everything this lab has to offer. Testing, researching and learning different types of technology have always been passions of mine. My main role right now is to help develop, support and implement the collaboration services that provide audio and video conferencing to the lab so experimenters can work more efficiently.

Recently, our group has been working diligently with several vendors and external providers to test and evaluate their products and service offerings to provide the lab with the appropriate collaboration tools needed in our environment. Projects and upgrades in different video conferencing rooms have been some of best learning experiences for me because each room has unique equipment and functionality. A lot of creativity is needed to design these rooms.  

Currently, part of my role includes providing training, support, documentation and troubleshooting technical issues for collaboration services. ESnet is dropping their conferencing services on September 30 of this year. In response, we have been working diligently to assess all our conference room equipment to improve capabilities to mitigate this loss as much as possible. We have been working with ReadyTalk to develop a plan to ensure a continuity of service with minimal disruption. We have also been writing new documentation and holding town hall meetings to make our users aware of these changes.

Additionally, we have been doing a lot of research on several new tools that could be used in the future. One of these, which we have implemented in the FCC2A conference room, is the SmartBoard. This tool has a broad range of features that can be used during meetings and other collaboration events. If anyone would like to try SmartBoard out, please let our group know. We will be happy to give you a quick tutorial.

Learning and researching about different collaboration tools has been a great experience. I look forward to investigating and learning more about the future direction of Fermilab and how other departments work.

Robert Illingworth
SCD/Scientific Computing Services/Scientific Data Processing/Data Management

When I joined what was then the Computing Division 12 years ago as a postdoc on the DZero experiment, one of the projects I worked on was the SAM data management system. Now, I'm the project lead for SAM, software that keeps track of the large volume of data generated by a modern particle physics experiment, enabling physicists to obtain and analyze the exact subset of the data that they’re interested in.

Currently, we’re working on updating it for use by Fermilab's new and ongoing experiments. SAM was used very successfully by both DZero and CDF to catalogue the petabytes of data the experiments created and analyzed. It's great to be able to build on all the experience we gained while incorporating various advances in computing technology to build data management systems suitable for current and future experiments.

In addition to developing software for managing data, I am also part of the team supporting the physicists who analyze the data. We are responsible for supporting a large number of experiments, including MINOS, NOvA,, MINERvA, MicroBooNE, Muon g-2, Mu2e and several others. Our team also supports the remaining analysis activities and long-term data access for DZero and CDF. Handling data is a central part of the analysis process, so we have to interact, not just with the physicists, but also with many other parts of the Computing Sector including grid, cloud, storage and database services and system administration. It's very satisfying to be able to disentangle and solve a complex problem that cuts across multiple service areas.