Compute Ontario was incorporated in 2014 with support from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation as a not-for-profit organization to support advanced research computing (ARC) in the province. Compute Ontario was primarily formed to improve provincial collaboration and orchestration of advanced computing to support research and innovation. Compute Ontario’s early functions include centralizing strategy and planning functions for advanced computing assets and investments in Ontario, including hardware, software, highly qualified personnel, data management, storage and security, and connectivity.
Compute Ontario, in partnership with the provincial consortia (SHARCNET, SciNet, HPC4Health and the Centre for Advanced Computing), provides the advanced high performance computing (HPC) platform which enables forefront research. The four HPC consortia span the province and include all research universities, as well as several hospitals, colleges and research institutes. Together with the Ontario Research and Innovation Optical Network (ORION), which links the research and education institutions with the infrastructure, the network comprises a powerful platform for advanced research using HPC that links with peers in Canada and internationally.
Technical Staff and Expertise
Within Compute Ontario, there are 68 technical support personnel distributed throughout the institutions. Of these, 39 are designated as High Performance Technical Analysts/Consultants (HPTC) with diverse expertise and skillsets spanning areas such as bioinformatics, computational chemistry, astrophysics, computer science, condensed matter physics, visualization and digital humanities. These HPTC personnel, most of whom have PhDs themselves, are the front-line personnel who interact with the research community, and are integral to the support and training that is being provided. Technical Support personnel also includes 29 Systems Administrators dedicated to managing and running the ARC systems and networks, technical management and coordinators, developers, and programmers.
Training and Outreach
Compute Ontario, through the provincial consortia, provides a wide and varied range of training and outreach events. Training, which ranges from afternoon tutorials on software and libraries to multi-day workshops and full semester courses on parallel programming, is aimed at creating awareness of ARC services among potential users, and facilitating ease of system use and continuing education for current users. In 2015-16, over 200 training and outreach events were held, with 4,300 participants. This included outreach to prospective new users, influencers, and high school students which impacted 380 individuals. Comprehensive online resources are also available via portal interfaces and YouTube, which allow for training materials to be available anytime wherever there is internet access.
Usage of Resources by Ontario Researchers
Values of less than 1% are not reflected in these charts.
One of my first actions as CEO of Compute Ontario was to initiate conversations with our community. One of the things I heard was that, as Canada’s innovation agenda continues to evolve, it is essential that our advanced computing sector move in lock-step. In that regard, together with Compute Canada, we are committed to ensuring that researchers have the access and expertise needed to utilize the increasingly essential infrastructure that underpins their work. Our Board is discussing a series of strategic initiatives and, as these initiative mature, we will engage with our provincial and national stakeholders to ensure their voices are heard.
- Nizar Ladak, Chief Executive Officer, Compute Ontario