The Research Computing Buy-in Program affords University researchers a low cost, flexible way to own their computing resources and provides an attractive alternative to purchasing and maintaining standalone systems. It additionally provides a manageable way to grow and sustain research computing that is accessible to all researchers at Boston University.
The Buy-in Program allows researchers to acquire additional, standardized compute and storage resources to support their individual research projects. These additional resources are integrated into and augment the University's Shared Computing Cluster (SCC), which is centrally managed by Research Computing Services within IS&T. Owners of Buy-in compute nodes are given priority access to their equipment while any excess capacity is returned to the pool for general, shared use. Owners may, of course, also scale-out and use other resources available on the Shared Computing Cluster. Buy-in storage space is provided exclusively to the owner within a high-performance, parallel file-system. In exchange for letting other users make use of idle compute cycles on their purchased nodes, researchers pay no additional costs for managing their hardware or software.
Participation in the Buy-in Program provides researchers with many benefits:
- Favorable hardware pricing partially subsidized by IS&T
- Exclusive access to owned storage space
- Priority access to owned compute nodes
- Rapid deployment of resources with no additional costs
- The ability to easily scale-out to additional compute nodes for their projects
- The ability to use the facility’s resilient, high-performance, parallel file-system for accessing their project’s files
- The option to use an Infiniband high-speed interconnect for larger parallel compute jobs
- Access to a large collection of research computing software maintained by the Research Computing staff
- Professional staff management of the hardware, software and security environment
- Easy access to the programming, consulting, and training services offered by Research Computing
For additional technical details and limitations of the program please refer to the Buy-in program details page.
Buy-In Program and Schedule
The Buy-In Program offers options for both compute and storage. For computation several standard configurations of compute nodes are available at specially negotiated prices. For detailed information on the pricing and configurations, please see the Buy-In Computing System Offerings (a BU faculty or staff login is required to access this page). Compute nodes may be requested at any time. For prospective University researchers without a current BU faculty or staff appointment, detailed information on the current Buy-in Computing System Offerings without pricing information is available. Please contact us if you have special ordering requirements.
Storage is also available under the Buy-in program. Similar to compute nodes, storage is offered as a capital equipment acquisition. Storage may be purchased in 5 TB increments with a minimum base purchase of 10 TB. The storage is integrated into the larger project file storage system attached to the cluster with the specific amount of space purchased dedicated to the owner's project(s). As with compute nodes, storage is considered a one-time capital equipment purchase with a five (5) year life-time. Please see Buy-in Storage Offerings for more details and pricing. (a BU faculty or staff login is required to access this page). Unlike compute nodes, we will aggregate storage requests until we have enough participation to buy a full storage module. However, once you place an order, we will loan you storage, on a best effort basis, up to the amount of your purchase until we are able to fulfill your order. Storage purchased under the Buy-in Program can be added to your project storage spaces as either non-backed-up or STASH storage.
All equipment purchased under this program which is charged to a sponsored project must be essential, allowable, and allocable. If the equipment is to be used for multiple sponsored projects and/or for non-sponsored research, an appropriate allocation of costs must be made among the funding sources, including departmental funds. The Office of Research provides an FAQ for the Research Computing Buy-In Program that addresses specific funding and account questions.
Equipment purchased under the Buy-in program has a 5 year life-time and will come with a 5 year, next business day hardware warranty. At the beginning of the 5th year Research Computing Services will notify the researcher that their equipment is entering its final year of use and discuss available options. If a researcher chooses not to upgrade compute nodes by the end of the 5th year, the node will be retired and the researcher has the option to either take possession of their equipment or have Research Computing recycle it. If the researcher purchases new storage, Research Computing will transfer the data to the new storage. Otherwise, the researcher must make provisions to transfer their data elsewhere, if needed. Any data left on the storage at the end of the 5th year will be deleted.
Buy-in owners will have access to their home directory (backed up), project (both backed up and not backed up) shared storage space, and Buy-in storage from their Buy-in compute nodes, as well as from the rest of the shared Linux cluster.
If a researcher is interested in participating in the Buy-in Program, the LPI or their designated representative will work with RCS on the following process:
- Discuss the researcher’s requirements and establish that the Buy-in program will meet those needs
- Set up project, accounts, and associated home directory and project disk space on the current shared system so researchers can start work immediately if desired
- For Buy-in Compute, establish access and priority policies that will apply to the researcher’s Buy-in hardware
- Start the purchase process for their Buy-in hardware. For Buy-in Storage, grant loaner space if needed and available
- Once their Buy-in equipment arrives, RCS will place it into production. For Buy-in Compute, the researcher will have priority access on their new hardware
Ready to Buy or Need More Information?
If you have additional questions about the Buy-in Program or are interested in purchasing Buy-in equipment please send email to email@example.com.
Please refer to the following for detailed information on the procurement process for Buy-in equipment.