2013 User Day Workshop Blog

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Susan Coulter, HPC Network Administrator at Los Alamos National Laboratory, recently sat down with the OpenFabrics Alliance to talk about the organization’s upcoming User Day Workshop. Susan played a significant role in the success of last year’s inaugural workshop, and will be spearheading the 2-day event, to be held April 18-19 in Monterey, California.

OFA: Susan, please tell us in your own words: What is the purpose of the User Day Workshop?

SC: The sole purpose of the User Day Workshop is to bring together everyone and anyone who is currently using OpenFabrics Software (OFS) in their organizations and providing them with a setting to talk with each other about the challenges, different opportunities and permutations in using OFS. Before we started the User Day Workshop last year, there just wasn’t a ton of hard knowledge or information available on OFS, so users were just basically “winging it” to make it work for them. The User Day Workshop was created to give those users different perspectives and features that OFS is capable of providing to their organizations.  The workshop also gives users a unique opportunity to be further educated on the different paths of using OFS and how each one can contribute to the other.

OFA: What were the benefits and key takeaways from the inaugural event in 2012?

SC: It’s always a little nerve-racking to put together a brand new event, but initial response to the workshop was wonderful. This is what the OFS User Community had been looking for. Last year’s event brought together a group of more than 40 OFS users, and out of their discussions came the realization that they all had the same struggles and questions. We heard several times throughout the event that the workshop provided a sense of camaraderie between the users and an excellent platform for positive transfers of ideas.

There were countless “revelations” about OFS software that happened during the inaugural workshop – I even learned a thing or two about OFS that I wasn’t aware of before! (For example, did you know that there are some switches that mirror the port and that you can monitor the port to see traffic?) I was also able to provide useful tips to my fellow OFS users, including how I monitor fabric and how to make the output easier to read.

OFA: What can attendees look forward to for this year’s workshop?

SC: Our goal for this year’s event is to cover various aspects of OFS at a much deeper level than we did last year. We purposefully left the agenda last year fairly open because we just didn’t know what people wanted to hear or talk about. It was nice to see how the discussions flowed so organically. This year we expect the same thing, as it is very important that the workshop be driven by the users as much as possible. But, we have identified specific trending topics that we’d like to address with attendees.

I am pleased to announce that we are pulling together an incredible line-up of speakers, including past participants and experts who know how OFS was designed and how best to use it in your particular organization. Here’s a sneak peak of a few speakers we have already confirmed, each one of them participated in last year’s event and who have offered to come back to lead a few sessions:

  • Blake Caldwell, HPC Systems Administrator with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, will discuss Lustre and Storage Area Networks as well as Practical Monitoring.
  • Jeff Becker, Senior Computer Scientists with CSS/NASA Ames Research Center, will lead a talk on NFS/RDMA.
  • Florent Parent, Director of Operations, Site de l’Université Laval, Calcul Québec will lead a session on DHCP/PXE Boot over IB.

OFA: For OFS users not a part of the User Community, please tell us why they should consider joining the community.

SC: The User Day workshop is a great place to start, but if you can’t join us in Monterey this year, I highly encourage you to join the OFS User Community. As a result of the success from last year’s workshop, we have started up a mailing list and a user forum on the OpenFabrics Alliance website for OFS users to communicate with each other and share ideas, tips and tricks.

The community allows anyone who is using OFS to pose questions and problems to other users, or to offer up potential uses of OFS and how other users might incorporate them into their own organizations. By joining the community, you would be ahead of the curve and be privy to upcoming and current trends such as big data, cloud and virtualization.

In my opinion, if you’ve deployed OFS in your organization, there is no reason why you shouldn’t join the community!

Don’t forget to register for the User Day Workshop! Early bird registration is available until midnight March 29th at $295 a person. After March 29th, registration is $395 a person.