Comprised of three groups, the Computing Services Department delivers technology services to support the Noble Foundation:
- The Enterprise and User Infrastructure Team designs and implements the core campus infrastructure including networking, computing, storage, telecommunications and desktop services.
- The Business and Scientific Solutions Team works closely with the lines of business and researchers to architect, procure, implement and maintain solutions to meet business needs.
- The Bioinformatics and Research Support Team provides support and data analysis for ongoing research projects and development of novel solutions for scientific problems by establishing close collaborative relationships with researchers.
High Performance Computing
The department maintains two high performance computing clusters. The first is an IBM 1350 blade center high performance computing (HPC) cluster with 27 computing nodes. The total of the nodes provides 272 CPU cores, with 648 GB of distributed memory and 16 TB of scratch storage. The IBM blade center is used for distributed computing such as reference sequence alignment and BLAST searches. The second cluster is a ScaleMP vSMP high performance cluster with 10 HP ProLiant DL385 G7 servers. The ScaleMP vSMP provides a total of 120 CPU cores and 2 TB aggregative memory. The ScaleMP vSMP provides an environment for large-memory computing applications such as de novo assembly and gene regulatory network prediction.
Virtual Server Environment
The department manages two VMWare virtual server farms. Each farm is designated for specific activities. The first farm is comprised of six HP DL380 ESX hosts for a total of 68 cores and 236 GB of memory. The farm's primary function is to host enterprise shared virtual servers. Most virtual servers in the enterprise farm use a Microsoft operating system. These virtual servers host functions that include database servers, Web servers, intranet servers and hosted application servers.
The department also manages an additional VMWare virtual server farm specifically used for scientific computing activities. The scientific farm is comprised of eight HP ProLiant DL585 G5 ESX servers for a total of 288 CPU cores and 1120 GB memory. The scientific farm hosts a variety of virtual servers that run various Linux distributions and Microsoft operating systems. The farm's virtual servers are used for scientific software development, testing, Web server and database hosting, public and internal services, internal user desktops, and application servers.
Enterprise and User Infrastructure
Built in 2006, the Administration Building houses the data center for computing services and activities. The data center contains 2,025 square feet of usable floor space, and we currently have a total of 20 data cabinets that contain 42u each for a total of 840u of total rack space. The data center also contains redundant cooling and power systems. Critical systems are also connected to our 160 kVA UPS system for extended power outages.
The department manages a total of 216 TB of high availability usable storage. The storage environment is built upon two Netapp 3240 storage controllers (seven-mode cluster) and provides 143 TB of usable storage. Additionally, one Netapp 3240 is maintained at a remote location for backup and disaster recovery, and provides 73 TB of usable storage. Core networking is built upon one Cisco 6509-E platform providing 192 1GigE and 32 10GigE ports.
Business and Scientific Solutions
The solutions group develops, procures and implements technologies for the advancement of business and scientific activities. Purchased solutions are provided by a variety of vendors. The solutions group uses a variety of programming languages and database technologies to achieve their goals. Database technologies include Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle and MySQL. Programming languages used by the group include VB .NET, C# .NET, C++, Python, Perl, PHP, Matlab, R and Java.
Scientific solutions include:
- Bioinformatics Software and Web Sites
- Scientific Data Warehouse
- Laboratory Information Management System
Enterprise solutions include:
- Agricultural Consultation Management and Extranet Systems
- Enterprise HR and Accounting Management Solutions
- Enterprise Intranet Portal Development
Bioinformatics and Research Support
Our group includes trained scientists covering a broad range of disciplines and skill sets that aid in the Foundation's mission by providing support services to all three divisions. Group members are experienced in research and experimental design, computer programming, data analysis, bioinformatics, scientific writing and dissemination of information and products to increase the efficiency of the research and consultation programs. Staff not only use the most advanced and sophisticated software, but also develop cutting-edge software and custom scripts that facilitate data sharing and analysis. Through these services and group-led educational workshops, the Computing Services Department seeks to expand the scientific and analytical capabilities of the Foundation's research staff. Currently, some group members are involved in next generation sequence analysis, comparative genomics and transcriptomics, gene network prediction, genetic mapping, biomarker discovery and providing other bioinformatics services to support scientific projects, while other group members are collaborating on spatial analyses of livestock, rangeland and wildlife resources, dual purpose bioenergy and forage crops, small grains breeding, gene silencing, and many other areas of study.