This morning I met with the rest of the e-Research Triage group; Leon Sterling (PVC Digital Frontiers), Rajesh Vasa (Software Innovation Lab), Julie Madjarevic and Rob Shaw (Swinburne ITS Project Office), to problem solve infrastructure and software development requests for researchers. It's rare that all five of us can co-ordinidate schedules so it was actually really nice to catch up properly and have a fairly serious talk about issues facing Swinburne researchers. It's also rare that we field multiple requests at once (usually projects come in sporadically), so I came out of the meeting thinking that we might actually have achieved something.
The purpose of the e-Research Triage Group is to support research staff and students with their everyday research and project work, and to provide support for the non-standard software tools they use. Requests can take the form of:
- general software training requests (e.g. R & Python, Intro to HPC or Linux.),
- assistance with the installation and maintenance of open source software (e.g. Inquisit & R),
- modification of existing research software tools,
- development of research software tools or applications,
- database development and web applications,
- software requirements analysis for research projects,
- assistance with software budgeting for general research and projects,
- queries about software for data visualisation,
- anything else relating to computing for research and
- advice on setting up data storage and access portals
It's basically ITS support for data-intensive research, an area of Swinburne ITS that (dare I say it...) is woefully under funded and under resourced. Anyway, today we talked about how we could external software developers in to fix a somewhat broken MyTardis system for Quantum and Optical Sciences researchers, how we could get Swinburne ITS involved in the nitty girl logistics, and how we could make this magic happen with very little, if any money. Tricky hey?. We also talked about setting up databases for a social sciences twitter tracking project. It seem that Digital Ocean is really taking off as the cloud server of choice. According to Wikipedia it was founded in 2011, received its first significant startup funding in 2012, and by October 2014 surpassed Rackspace as the fourth largest hosting provider in the world. Wow.
Swinburne Software Innovation Lab
At lunchtime I saw Raj again at the Centre for Astrophysics Supercomputing's weekly Director's Lunch. Raj is Head of Research and Development at the Swinburne Software Innovation Lab. He talked briefly about the lab and how they are working to develop software solutions for industry. They are involved in some pretty impressive projects, including battlefield simulations for the Australian Defence Force. Apparently it's like running a galaxy formation simulation, but replacing galaxies with tanks. Kind of nuts...