A “Point-of Contact” (POC) is the key person serving a group using the cluster. The POC plays a major role in the shared governance model of the Duke Compute Cluster, and so understanding the responsibilities and using the cluster’s management resources is important to maintain a smoothly running cluster community.
The “Acceptable Use Policy” for the Duke Compute Cluster outlines many of the responsibilities of the POCs. In general the role of POC
- manages and vets a group’s membership,
- serves as a central point-of-contact (hence the moniker) for communications from IT and research computing staff that are pertinent to a group,
- arranges the disposition of data produced and left by former members of the group,
- acts as an arbiter of trust who “vouches” for secure and responsible uses of the resources by members in his or her group, and
- helps to assess the group’s responsible use of the shared cluster’s storage and compute resources provided by the University and other researchers in the cluster.
Because of these responsibilities, the POC for a group is a person of authority in a lab or research group. For groups that are created for a class, the course instructor serves as POC. POCs must be directly associated with the university, either as a staff member, faculty, or student. They cannot be “affiliates” or have access to resources by means of a “guest account.”
While these responsibilities are all important, the maintenance of up-to-date membership of groups is of central concern, since the POC in effect serves as the gatekeeper for cluster compute resources and, just as importantly, the data and research processes belonging to a group. In order to maintain current group membership, POCs should review membership at least on an annual basis and, more prudently, on a semester basis so that lingering group members can be removed. From time to time, Duke Research Computing or the IT Security Office staff may request that a group POC review the membership of individuals in a group.
People in a group should have a demonstrable need for access as they do the work of a research group. Collaborators from other institutions may use the cluster to execute activities relating to research collaboration but should refrain from using Duke computing or storage resources for purposes that do not fall within the purview of a collaboration. The POC is responsible for managing access for collaborators and may be able to sponsor “affiliate” NetIDs for non-Duke collaborators.
A set of easy-to-use web forms allow POCs to add or delete users from the groups they control and initiate other actions that relate to the management of a cluster group. These forms generate “tickets” that are used to record the action and trace tasks done to complete the actions.
POCs can use standard Unix tools such as finger and id to get information about users in their groups. A script tool can be executed from the command line to get a list of users’ NetIDs and names:
This tool makes it easy to see who is in a group.
Member of the firstname.lastname@example.org list & POC meeting once a semester
All POCs are placed on the email@example.com email list. This is a low-traffic list that Duke Research Computing uses to communication with Points-of-Contact. Once a semester, POCs gather for a brief meeting that updates on developments and changes as well as provides a means of interaction among POCs and staff who support the cluster, including Research Computing group members and the OIT systems and development groups.