Date of last assessment: October 2001
The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) is dedicated to experimental and theoretical research in elementary particle physics and in those fields that make use of its synchrotron radiation facilities, including biology, chemistry, geology, material science and electrical engineering. This includes the development of new techniques in particle acceleration and detection, and of synchrotron radiation sources and associated instrumentation. The Center is operated as a national user facility for the Department of Energy by Stanford University.
The Computer Information Resource Management functional area is responsible for coordinating Information Management activities within the Laboratory. This coordination effort includes encouragement of information standards to ensure broad availability of information resources, of computer and systems procurements that have Laboratory support, and are part of Laboratory wide information planning practices.
The Computer Information Resource Management functional area self-assessment is based on, and measured against, performance objectives and standards as reflected in the SLAC contract that were defined by SLAC managers and DOE points of contact in order to address customer satisfaction, cost efficiency, and contract compliance.
Identification of Self-Assessment Report Staff
Names, titles, affiliations of participants
Robert Cowles, Computer Security Officer
Richard Mount, Director of SLAC Computing Services (SCS)
Scope of Self-Assessment
The BaBar program has been extremely productive during FY02. Luminosity in PEP II has continued to increase, reaching over 150% of design luminosity. By virtue of this luminosity, BaBar has recorded nearly a petabyte of data. In order to accommodate this plethora of data, SLAC Computing Services (SCS) and BaBar physicists have been expanding computing resources as rapidly as possible. Three different areas deserve special mention:
Intel Commodity Computer Purchases
The virus detection system continues to be very effective in protecting the Laboratory. The InocuLAN system has been upgraded to the latest version from Computer Associates, InoculateIT. The newer version of the software allows for greater flexibility in managing the clients and distributing signature updates. InoculateIT continues to be very responsive in supplying security updates. In a year when computer users everywhere have been assaulted by a continual barrage of viruses and worms, the network-based virus detection package has been enormously effective in protecting the Laboratory. Computer Associates has been extremely responsive in supplying signature updates, sometimes several times per week. The Antigen product from Sybari performs real-time scanning of email entering and leaving the Exchange server. This has proven to be a useful additional line of defense on top of attachment removal at the mail gateway and real-time virus scanning at the desktop. Sybari is also very responsive in distributing security updates.
Computing and Information Management Policies
Laboratory policy committees have scheduled monthly meetings but only meet as appropriate to deal with policy issues. There are two committees responsible for addressing computing policies
New Items of Interest in 2002
Intel Systems Summary
Windows 2000 Infrastructure and Windows XP Client Support
Active Directory has been rolled out into production at SLAC. The new infrastructure provides increased security with its use of Kerberos. Active Directory also provides significant additional administrative functionality. On the desktop side, a decision has been made to bypass Windows 2000 and go to Microsoft’s latest OS Windows XP. Microsoft will no longer support the Windows NT OS come July 2003, which necessitated the move to a new OS. By going directly to Windows XP rather than Windows 2000, the Laboratory will save time by skipping a version of Microsoft desktop OS. Continuing to limit the number of Windows versions at the lab will be a significant cost savings.
Now that Active Directory has been rolled into production at the lab, SLAC is ready to implement Exchange 2000. Implementing Active Directory was a precursor to rolling out Exchange 2000 as Exchange 2000 is closely tied to the Active Directory database. With Exchange 2000’s ability to manage multiple e-mail repositories on a single server, Exchange 2000 provides greater flexibility over the Exchange 5.5. The new Exchange 2000 servers will make use of the new Hitachi SAN environment for storage and its ability to recover data quickly with point-in-time copies.
Windows Storage Systems
The Windows storage growth has been doubling over the past year. The current Windows storage is 2 TB. To cost effectively manage the growth of Windows storage, a two tier mechanism of storage is being implemented. The 1st tier will serve critical data, such as Exchange e-mail, and will reside on a SAN environment which provides uptime and recovery functionality over normal direct attached systems, such as point-in-time copies. This has been procured and is currently being tested for production rollout. The 2nd tier will serve normal file data that does not have such high requirements in uptime and recovery. In 2003, the 2nd tier storage system will be procured and implemented.
System administrator training
System administrators have received the following training:
Seismic Stability Upgrades
To provide reliable and highly available computers to BaBar researchers and the SLAC community as a whole, in the event of a natural disaster, such as an earthquake, it was decided that the SCS computer center needed a number of seismic stability upgrades. Critical in this upgrade plan is the raised flooring system currently in use. This flooring was installed over 20 years ago and the epoxy used has crystallized, the materials used in the construction of the old flooring system do not meet today’s codes. Therefore, the computer center’s raised flooring is being systematically replaced in several phases to 1) improve seismic stability and reliability of the computer center, and 2) remove under floor obstructions to cooling airflow. Phase one of this project was completed in FY2002.
Electrical Power Improvements for Central Servers
Work is ongoing to switch the majority of computer equipment to UPS systems procured in FY2001 and to connect all units with dual power supplies to both UPS and house power. Load studies are being done to determine the length of time these new UPS systems can provide total power for the computer center, and establish needs for additional battery packs. The UPS systems are intended to provide enough power to maintain SLAC’s computing and networking infrastructure for a long enough period of time to enable and bring the planned backup generators online.
Oracle continues to be the standard database at the lab, resulting in significant cost savings in integration and support.
The different groups responsible for maintaining Institutional Data have continued to streamline and extend procedures:
Remedy software is widely used at the lab for action request systems. Major lab functions (such as computing, facilities, and accelerator) have standardized to this software.
Performance Side-Bar Indicators
HPSS and Objectivity database
A sign of system growth is the mass storage system HPSS that acts as the primary repository of the Objectivity database for the data collected by the BaBar experiment. The amount of data stored in FY02 grew from approximately 500 terabytes at the start of the year, to nearly a petabyte at the end of the year.
As in FY01, SLAC Compute Farms have continued their rapid growth. The table below shows the growth in capacity available to the scientific program. While the percentage growth was smaller than the previous year, in absolute terms it was nearly as large as the previous growth. The capacity units below are the total GigaHertz across the farms; experience shows that physics code production is directly related to the speed ratings of current processors, giving us a useful basis for comparison and scaling.
An additional Linux compute farm is in operation – Accelerator Research (ERDA) has a farm consisting of 32 VALinux machines.
Status of Goals during FY02
Windows 2000 infrastructure has been put into production, and, Exchange 2000 is expected to be in production by the year-end.
No significant progress has been made in this area. With several Peer Reviews imminent, it was impractical to establish SCS based measures until the requirements for the reviews are fully known.
Improvement Action Plan/Goals
Goals for FY 2003
SLAC | BIS |BSD
For Questions or comments, Please contact Ziba Mahdavi, Last Updated 10/30/02