null LUMI Roadshow on the way to superior user experience

Fredrik Robertsén, Anu Märkälä, Eeva Polvi, Juhani Huttunen and Pekka Manninen at the CSC's Kajaani datacenter. Photo: CSC

LUMI Roadshow – on the way to superior user experience

LUMI roadshow visited Kajaani and nine other cities in Finland mainly online between October 2020 and February 2021 in order to introduce the new flagship supercomputer to its potential end users across the country.

LUMI User Program was launched in spring 2020 when the story of LUMI was first shared with its future end users in a webinar that gathered a wide international audience. The participants were encouraged to think new research problems from big enough perspective. ”LUMI is a game-changer, a paradigm changer. LUMI’s computing power will make a difference”, noted keynote-speaker professor Ilpo Vattulainen from University of Helsinki.

Each LUMI consortium country  runs their own User Program. However, the contents of the programs are coordinated and best practices are actively shared to each other so that LUMI can meet users' needs in the best possible manner. LUMI User Program Finland is led by Customer Solution Manager Juhani Huttunen from CSC.  “As a part of it, we conducted a survey in Finland in spring 2020 to map which kind of needs potential user groups have regarding the up-coming supercomputing environment. In addition to the survey, over twenty research groups were interviewed about their research area's special needs for LUMI", tells Huttunen. In the context of the User Programs, several training and software development projects have also been launched both at CSC and in the LUMI consortium within the past year.

Spreading the word about LUMI across Finland

LUMI roadshow, which started in autumn 2020, was a direct continuation of these activities. The objective of the roadshow was to raise awareness of the new flagship supercomputer among its future end users in universities, research institutes and industry/SMEs, and to gather use cases, expectations and requirements to support the development of LUMI. The roadshow was organized according to the wish of the Ministry of Education and Culture to approach all potential LUMI user groups in Finland in a geographically equitable way and to provide them with information on LUMI tailored to the needs of each area as appropriate.

The events were organized in collaboration with a local university. The roadshow organiser at CSC's end was Anu Märkälä. The first two events could be run on-site at Kajaani University of Applied Sciences and the University of Oulu before the corona situation got worse. After that, the remaining events were organized online only and visits to local regions changed to adjusting Zoom settings. The roadshow was hosted by Juhani Huttunen.

The event in Kajaani was special in a sense that the participants got to visit CSC´s data center and LUMI construction site under the guidance of Director Jukka-Pekka Partanen, Development Manager Toni Manninen and Data Operations Specialist Esa Heiskanen. The possibility to see the LUMI's data center being constructed raised wide interested among the participants and a few of them travelled from Oulu to Kajaani specifically for this reason.

Let us introduce the superstar of computers

At each event, Director of LUMI Leadership Computing Facility Pekka Manninen gave a presentation on LUMI in which he told how the superstar of computers ended up being located in Kajaani and which kind of hardware it consists of. In addition to explaining the new (super) features of LUMI, he told listeners also about how LUMI can be utilized, what benefits it will bring to different user groups and how to prepare for its arrival, for example by optimizing software codes to the new GPU-based (Graphics Processing Units) environment.

The presentation highlighted also how LUMI's resources can be utilized in cooperation and for innovations between higher education institutions, research institutes and the private sector. This will open up new opportunities especially for companies to participate in large-scale research, development and innovation projects, and to develop data-driven business models. See the recording of event targeted for the Capital area on LUMI's YouTube channel.  

All events had a similar basic structure. After the questions on the LUMI presentation, it was time for the guest speaker to give researcher's perspective to the topic. Guest speakers were professors or other researchers from the local university who had previously used CSC's computing services. They gave the audience a practical example on high-performance computing in action by telling about their research and how they have utilized CSC's services in it. They also reflected on what new LUMI could bring to their research in the future. More realistic modelling of scientific phenomena and the possibility to combine different operations and workflows, like large-scale simulations and intelligent data analytics, within the same computing environment raised great interest among the researchers.

Plenty of time was also reserved for discussion to respond the questions from the audience. The questions varied from LUMI's business models and practical issues all the way to the details of software and hardware. The audience seemed to be particularly interested in the possibilities to process sensitive data and wanted to know which kind of preparation work was expected from researchers to ensure that their software will run smoothly in the new GPU-based environment. Finally, researchers and research groups could meet with CSC's experts in private online meetings to discuss specific questions related to their own research in more detail.

Towards the best possible user experience

The discussions we had with potential end users during the roadshow will strongly support the development of LUMI as well as the implementation of superior user experience. We will expand the current FAQ on LUMI's website based on the questions raised during the events. Moreover, the roadshow generated requests to CSC to organize specific info sharing sessions on LUMI targeted for private enterprises. One example is the webinar organized in collaboration with BusinessOulu in November 2020.

In summary, reaching out to our clientele has given us essential feedback to ensure that the development work is going to the right direction, and has clarified the expectations for the grand new supercomputer.

Many thanks to all of you who helped us to carry out the LUMI roadshow!

LUMI roadshow in numbers:

  • 10 events, 10 guest speakers
  • 457 registered participants out of which approximately 60% came from universities, 19% universities of applied sciences, 13% research institutions and 4% from the private sector.
  • 26 researcher meetings
  • 1 trip to Oulu and Kajaani

The roadshow was organised as a part of EuroCC project which aims to create a European network of national high-performance computing (HPC) competence centers.

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Anu Märkälä

Author started at CSC as a Trainee in 2018 and works now as a Project Coordinator.

Juhani Huttunen

Author is Project Manager of LUMI User Program at CSC.

Anni Jakobsson

Author works as a Communications Specialist at CSC.