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The SNS/HFIR Web Portal System – How Can it Help Me?...

Publication Type
Conference Paper
Journal Name
Journal of Physics: Conference Series
Publication Date
Page Numbers
1 to 6
Conference Name
ICNS 2009
Conference Location
Knoxville, Tennessee, United States of America
Conference Sponsor
Conference Date

Abstract. In a busy world, continuing with the status-quo, to do things the way we are already familiar, often seems to be the most efficient way to conduct our work. We look for the value-add to decide if investing in a new method is worth the effort. How shall we evaluate if we have reached this tipping point for change? For contemporary researchers, understanding the properties of the data is a good starting point. The new generation of neutron scattering instruments being built are higher resolution and produce one or more orders of magnitude larger data than the previous generation of instruments. For instance, we have grown out of being able to perform some important tasks with our laptops – the data are too big and the computations would simply take too long. These large datasets can be problematic as facility users now begin to grapple with many of the same issues faced by more established computing communities. These issues include data access, management, and movement, data format standards, distributed computing, and collaboration among others. The Neutron Science Portal has been architected, designed, and implemented to provide users with an easy-to-use interface for managing and processing data, while also keeping an eye on meeting modern cybersecurity requirements imposed on institutions. The cost of entry for users has been lowered by utilizing a web interface providing access to backend portal resources. Users can browse or search for data which they are allowed to see, data reduction applications can be run without having to load the software, sample activation calculations can be performed for SNS and HFIR beamlines, McStas simulations can be run on TeraGrid and ORNL computers, and advanced analysis applications such as those being produced by the DANSE project can be run. Behind the scenes is a “live cataloging” system which automatically catalogs and archives experiment data via the data management system, and provides proposal team members access to their experiment data. The complexity of data movement and utilizing distributed computing resources has been taken care on behalf of users. Collaboration is facilitated by providing users a read/writeable common area, shared across all experiment team members. To date, these shared areas are the fastest growing data spaces. The portal currently has over 370 registered users, almost 5TB of experiment and user data, approximately 660K files cataloged, and had almost 10,000 unique visits last year. Future directions for enhancing portal robustness include examining how to mirror data and portal services, better facilitation of collaborations via virtual organizations, enhancing disconnected service via “thick client” applications, and better inter-facility connectivity to support cross-cutting research. The portal has established itself in the SNS/HFIR user community, and the development team strives to continue to improve the quality of features and services provided in order to better serve the community.