Blog from August, 2012

The first data from BOSS, the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey led by Berkeley Lab scientists, is now available to the public. Spectroscopic data from over 500,000 galaxies up to 7 billion light years away, more than 100,000 quasars up to 11.5 billion light years away, and many thousands of other astronomical objects are included in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey’s Data Release 9. BOSS is the largest spectroscopic survey ever for measuring evolution of large-scale galactic structure.

Working with LBNL PI David Schlegel and Adam Bolton at the University of Utah, Berkeley Lab’s Stephen Bailey is in charge of daily “extraction pipeline” operations that convert raw data from the telescope into useful spectra and quantities derived from them, ready for scientific analysis. The data storage and the extraction pipeline run on the Riemann, 37-node Linux cluster, hosted and maintained of Berkeley Lab’s High Performance Computing Services Group. The Lab also hosts the SDSS-III website,, from which the data can be downloaded. Go here to read more.


The Berkeley Lab Technology Toolkit is what we call the set of services we provide for every employee at the Lab at no recharge. We try to make sure that the most important services everyone needs are covered as part of the Toolkit. Here’s an overview of what’s in the toolkit (aka funded by overhead or sometimes direct funding, but not recharge). This isn’t a completely exhaustive list - to learn more about any of these services including their funding model, visit

The Network:

A fast, flat, wall to wall network optimized for scientific data flows and visitor and employee wifi are included with no ongoing charges, bandwidth charges, or bandwidth limitations.  Special services like virtual circuits between institutions are also included.   If a new network drop, initial building wiring, or a new access point is required, these are recharged for installation, but there are no ongoing charges for network access.


The library, research databases, and electronic journals are all provided to all staff - the same ones available to faculty at UC Berkeley. Interlibrary loan requests may have an associated recharge, but all electronic resources are availalbe to all.  The library proxy, elinks, and fast book/article delivery from UCB are all included in the Toolkit.

Collaboration and Productivity Services:

Core productivity and collaboration services are all provided for all. The entire Google Apps Suite, which includes 25GB email, calendar, docs, storage (drive), sites, and more is available to all employees. This combination of services provides an excellent baseline for small to medium size collaborations for shared files, external and internal websites, and collaborator management. Mailing lists via and Google Groups are both provided, as well as extension tools like Smartsheets for simple project management. 1:1 and multi-person video conferencing are also available via Google Apps. Space on the institutional wiki Commons is also available at no recharge. If you’re developing code - version control and issue tracking services are also available at no recharge.  Software for managing and promoting scientific conferences is also included (Indico). 


With Google Drive, you can store and share unlimited files in your Google Account and access them from anywhere.   With Google Drive File Stream, Backup and Sync, Command Line Tools, and Globus, you can build science workflows that leverage Google Drive file storage to fit virtually any use case.


Site licensed software is available to all via, including antivirus software for all plaforms, virtual private networking (VPN), and security software like bigfix and identify finder. Non-site licensed software is available via recharge/passthrough, and employees generally benefit from excellent negotiated rates on these packages, thanks to overhead funded resources who search out and negotiate great laboratory pricing on software.

Cyber Security:

Cyber security monitoring, vulnerability scanning, consulting, training, and incident management are all provided at no recharge. While securing systems is an individual/group responsibility, these monitoring, coordination, and consulting services are all provided to all.  In fact, Berkeley Lab runs of one of the most sophisticated "science-friendly" cyber security programs around - numerous layers of protection are in place, but all are designed to let researchers collaborate, experiment, and test without undue burden or interruption.

Identity and Authentication:

Your Berkeley Lab Identity username and password, and your active directory account (and all the infrastructure behind them) are all provided at no recharge. Your Berkeley Lab Identity can even be used to authenticate to services at other institutions via federated identity.  In addition, a one time password service and gateway service are provided at no charge to help protect scientific systems from the treat of compromised credentials.

The Helpdesk:

There is never a charge for calling the helpdesk with an IT-related question. From basic office app issues to password resets, to help with collaborative tools, the helpdesk can answer most questions and find someone to help if they can’t. Recharges may apply if a tech needs to be dispatched to work on your computer if you don’t have local technical support and aren’t already supported by IT Division.

Archives and Records:

Scientific records archiving is provided at no cost for research records. Staff will even come out and process your scientific records for free.

Training and User Communities:

IT provides a program of training courses geared to both scientists and administrative staff.  These include everything from introductory courses on the Google Apps Suite, to specialty courses on scientific programming in Python, to courses on approaches to software project management.   In addition, the lab provides resources to support user communities around software development (coders) cyber security (cycom) Apple products (mug), and Google (gug).

And, Much More

There are lots of other services, like mail hygiene and routing, DNS services, reference services, publication management, and more that are also included, but the ones above are the big ones.

Visit the IT Services page to learn more about any of these services. And if you have any questions about how services are funded, where you money goes, or have suggestions for us, drop us a line at any time at

What was installed:

Cluster Support

  • Received NSD cluster of 21 nodes (Not yet operational)
  • Expected power usage is 6kW

Business Systems Group

  • None

What was removed:

Cluster Support Group

  • Approximately 10kW

Business Systems Group

  • None

July average Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE): 1.47

Average Power Consumption:

  • 400 kW IT = 67.8%
  • 1 kW lighting = .1%
  • 24.9 kW building and IT losses = 4.3%
  • 165 kW cooling power = 27.8%

Data Center Efficiency Progress:

The DOE national average PUE for data centers is 1.75.  The 50B-1275 data center has evolved from an average PUE of 1.65 (calculated in 2009) to today's 1.46.  Getting there, staying there, and further improving the PUE is an ongoing effort.

Key highlights for this month include:

  • Updates were suspended the last two months due to sensor read out failures.  A water temperature sensor was replaced and an IT load electrical meter failed.  The meter sensor was replaced.
  • New VFD software to automatically control air handler air flow has now gone through final testing by the vendor and the new software has been down loaded to our server.
  • The hot gas pressure valves have been replaced in the two 15 ton air handlers and appear to be working correctly.
  • During August we will be working with the vendor and EETD on the VFD drive testing plan.

The Systems, Application, and Middleware Support Group (SAMS) will perform work on the NetApp file server “Grouper” on Friday Aug 10, 2012 from 6:00pm-10:00pm. This is to replace its current storage controller with a newer model.  During this storage upgrade, the services listed below will be unavailable:

Conferences (Indico)
Desktop Management Files
EETD hosted web sites
Facilities web sites (not Workrequests)
SCS-Mon (Nagios for HPCS systems)
Sophos (Anti-virus Updates)
UCB Library proxy
Windows File Sharing
Windows Printing
60-net VM Hosting Service