Provide support services to all users of CISL resources

CISL has a strategic commitment to provide robust, accessible, and innovative services and resources to researchers in the atmospheric and related sciences, including the broad university community, Climate Simulation Laboratory (CSL) users, NCAR researchers, and University of Wyoming users. As part of that commitment, CISL provides its users with responsive and knowledgeable support services. CISL’s success in supporting scientific goals and enabling scientific impact depends in equal measure on understanding the needs and research objectives of its user community, as well as on integrating CISL’s resources, capabilities, and services in response to those needs. Our success can be measured in part by the high demand for current and future CISL resources in FY2017.

Work requests
The CISL Help Desk received 11,405 ExtraView tickets in FY2017. The CISL User Services teams closed 5,488 support requests after interacting with service groups as needed.


NCAR is one of only a small number of institutions with the resources and support services necessary to conduct high-end climate research, model development, and support for field campaigns. As a discipline-specific computing center, CISL is able to provide the capabilities and skill sets required to support important computational campaigns with on-demand resources that include those driven by unfolding natural disasters.

In FY2017, CISL deployed the next-generation Cheyenne supercomputing environment while continuing to support Yellowstone users. By the end of FY2017, both systems were delivering regular daily utilization in excess of 95%. CISL also provided multiple training opportunities to help users transition to and make effective use of the powerful new Cheyenne resource.

CISL’s strategic commitment to support services includes 24x7 frontline user support, extensive online documentation, and consulting services for providing in-depth expertise. CISL’s User Services Section (USS) unites four functions – the CISL Help Desk, Consulting Services, Documentation, and Accounts and Allocations – to streamline and coordinate user-oriented procedures and support activities.

CISL tracks user support activity for this growing community using an ExtraView trouble ticket system. In FY2017, the ticket system recorded 11,405 tickets to the CISL Help Desk (excluding NETS and tickets automatically generated by the HPC monitoring system), only a 5% increase from the FY2016 total despite the deployment of a second production HPC resource. The average number of log entries per ticket was 4.69, and communication with users was highest on complex cases. Of the total tickets submitted, the Help Desk team closed 2,970 tickets in an average of 2.74 days (median, 0.73 days), or 247 per month on average. In the same period, Consulting Services staff resolved 2,157 more-complex requests with an average resolution time of 19.3 days (median, 5.95 days). An additional 361 user support tickets that were fielded related primarily to managing allocations and accounting, with an average resolution time of 4.92 days (median, 0.83 days).

This work supports CISL’s computing imperative to provide hardware cyberinfrastructure customized for the atmospheric and related sciences. This ongoing service for users is supported by NSF Core funds including CSL funding.