NERSC Data Management Policy¶
NERSC provides its users with the means to store, manage, and share their research data products.
In addition to systems specifically tailored for data-intensive computations, we provide a variety of storage resources optimized for different phases of the data lifecycle; tools to enable users to manage, protect, and control their data; high-speed networks for intra-site and inter-site (ESnet) data transfer; gateways and portals for publishing data for broad consumption; and consulting services to help users craft efficient data management processes for their projects.
OSTP/Office of Science Data Management Requirements¶
Project Principal Investigators are responsible for meeting OSTP (Office of Science and Technology Policy) and DOE Office of Science data management requirements for long-term data sharing and preservation. The OSTP has issued a memorandum on Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research (https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/public_access_report_to_congress_apr2016_final.pdf) and the DOE has issued a Statement on Digital Data Management.
NERSC resources are intended for users with active allocations and, as described below, NERSC cannot guarantee long-term data access without a prior, written, service-level agreement. Please carefully consider these policies, including their limitations and restrictions, as you develop your data management plan.
While NERSC provides users with the systems and services that aid them in managing their data, users have ultimate responsibility for managing their data:
- Select the most appropriate resources to meet their individual needs.
- Use shared resources responsibly.
- Set appropriate access control limits.
- Archive and back up critical data.
- Never keep a single copy of critical data; NERSC is not responsible for data loss.
- Obtain permission from their PIs before requesting any changes in ownership of their data from NERSC staff.
- Follow proper use policies, described in the NERSC User Agreement.
PI (and PI Proxy) Responsibilities and Rights¶
- Monitor the usage of all NERSC resources associated with NERSC awards, including data storage and transfer, to ensure that usage is for the awarded project.
- PIs can request the modification, deletion, or transfer to another NERSC file system of data associated with their NERSC award
- Requests from users for changes of ownership of their data must be approved by the PI of the allocation that generated the data as well as the PI on the receiving side
- Be conversant with NERSC's data archive policy
NERSC Global File Systems (NGF)¶
NGF is a collection of centerwide file systems, based on IBM’s Spectrum Scale, available on all the systems at NERSC. There are three main file systems that comprise NGF: one providing home directories (global homes), one providing a common login user environment for all our systems (global common), and one for sharing data among collaborators on a science project or team (Community). The main focus of NGF is data sharing, ease of workflow management (i.e., not moving data around or maintaining unnecessary copies of data), and data analysis.
Scratch File Systems¶
Our primary computational system, Perlmutter, has a dedicated parallel file system (Perlmutter Scratch) based on Lustre that is optimized for short-term storage of application output and checkpoints.
Purging on Scratch File Systems
Running commands with the intent of circumventing purge policies on scratch file systems is not allowed. Repeated attempts to circumvent purge policies will result in access being suspended for a period of time, and may result in access being permanently disabled
Archival Storage (HPSS)¶
HPSS provides long-term archival storage to users at the facility. The main focus of the system is data stewardship and preservation, but it also supports some data sharing needs.
Quota and Purging¶
The quota and purge policies for each NERSC file sytem are described on the Quota page.
Data Retention Policy¶
It is strongly recommended that if you no longer have an allocation at NERSC, you transfer your data somewhere that you have access.
Data in a project’s directory on the Community File System will be retained as long as the project has an allocation at NERSC. Allocations are renewed on a yearly basis (see our section on accounts for information on renewal). If a project’s allocation is not renewed, any data in their Community directory may be removed from the Community File System at staff’s discretion. Please see the Community File System page for details on the timing of this process.
A project’s data in the HPSS Tape Archive System will be retained as long as the project has an allocation at NERSC. Currently NERSC has no plans to delete data in HPSS. Should NERSC ever need to remove data from HPSS, we will attempt to notify the PI of the group that owns the data first.
Any data stored in a scratch file system is subject to purging and will be deleted according to the individual system policies.
Data Transfer, Data Analysis, and Collaborative Capabilities¶
To enable high speed data transfer, we provide a set of parallel transfer servers tuned primarily for WAN data movement (into and out of the facility), and secondarily for high speed local transfers (e.g., NGF to HPSS). Staff from NERSC and ESnet with extensive data transfer experience are available to aid scientists in organizing, packaging, and moving their data to the most appropriate storage resource at our facility.
Our facility provides numerous Globus endpoints (access points) into our various storage systems. The key benefit of using Globus software is its ease of use in providing third party transfers and reliable fire-and-forget self-managed transfers.
Direct Web Access to Data¶
For rapid and simple data sharing, users can enable web access to files in their Community file system. See the Science Gateways page.
For more complex collaborative data, analytics, and computing projects, NERSC offers users the ability to create web gateways that can access NERSC computing, NGF, and HPSS resources. This includes rapid data subselection, deep search including machine learning, and simulation science in addition to bulk data movement. More details about science gateways are available.
Data Confidentiality and Access Control¶
The NERSC network is an open research network, intended primarily for fundamental research. We cannot guarantee complete confidentiality for data that resides at NERSC. It is your responsibility to set access controls appropriate to your needs, understanding that your data is stored on a semi-public system. While we take care to secure our systems, security breaches could expose your data to others.
Files are protected only using UNIX file permissions based on Iris user and group IDs. It is the user’s responsibility to ensure that file permissions and umasks are set to match their needs.
NERSC system administrators with “root” privileges are not constrained by the file permissions, and they have the ability to open and/or copy all files on the system. They can also assume a user’s identity on the system. NERSC HPC consultants also have the capability to assume a user’s identity to help users troubleshoot application or user environment problems. Vendor support personnel acting as agents of NERSC may also have administrative privileges.
Administrators only use these elevated privileges under certain highly restricted situations and, generally speaking, they only do so when requested, or if there is a suspected problem/security issue. Following are specific instances where we might look at your files:
We keep copies of all error, output, and job log files and may review them to determine if a job failure was due to user error or a system failure.
If you request our assistance via any mechanism, e.g., help ticket, direct personal email, in person, etc., we interpret that request to be explicit permission to view your files if we think doing so will aid us in resolving your issue.
Users may encrypt data to provide extra measures of privacy if desired.
Under ordinary circumstances, our staff will not copy, expose, discuss, or in any other way communicate your project information to anyone outside of your project or NERSC. There are two key exceptions:
- When an account expires or a user leaves a project, NERSC will honor requests to change file ownership when instructed by the original user or the most recent principal investigator (or designated PI proxy) of the sponsoring project.
- NERSC is required to address, safeguard against, and report misuse, abuse, security violations, and criminal activities. NERSC therefore retains the right, at its discretion, to disclose any and all data files or records of network traffic to appropriate cyber security organizations and law enforcement officials.
Selecting the Appropriate Data Storage Resource¶
NERSC provides a broad range of storage solutions to address different needs. The following describes each offered storage solution: its intended use (capabilities), data protection (backup), data retention, and available allocations. Users should familiarize themselves with these solutions, and select the most appropriate for their individual needs. Most users will use a combination of all file systems, depending on usage, performance, and data retention needs.
Home File System¶
The home file system is intended to hold source files, configuration files, etc., and is optimized for small to medium sized files. It is NOT meant to hold the output from your application runs; the scratch or (infrequently) the Community file systems should be used for computational output.
This file system has redundancy in the servers and storage, and duplicate copies of metadata, so we expect good stability and the highest availability in this space.
There are nightly snapshots performed to enable recovery of files older than one day after file creation. Snapshots are kept for 7 days. Home directories are also backed up to tape aproximately monthly, with backups kept for 6 months. See Backup/restore for usage notes about snapshots and backups.
Data for active users is not purged from this space. A user is considered inactive if they do not have an active allocation and have not accessed their data for at least one year. All files in your home file system will be archived to tape and maintained on disk for one year from the date your account is deactivated.
Each user is allocated a directory with a 40 GB hard quota in the home file system. This is the default allocation granted to all users.
Community File System¶
The Community file system is primarily intended for sharing data within a team or across computational platforms. The Community file systems is a parallel file system optimized for high-bandwidth, large-block-size access to large files. Once any active production and/or analysis is completed and you don't need regular access (> 1 year) to the data any longer, you should archive the data in the HPSS data archive (below) or transfer it back to your home institution. You should always ensure that you have another copy of your data outside of the NERSC facility.
This file system has redundancy in the servers and storage and duplicate copies of metadata, so we expect good stability and reliability. With high demand and capacity shared usage, we do expect some degradation on availability of the system (97% is the target overall availability).
Community directories are not backed up. Instead they use a snapshot capability to provide users a seven-day history of their directories. Users can use this capability to recover accidentally deleted files. It is recommended that users back up any essential data in our tape archive system or at another location.
Data for active users is not purged from this space. A user or project will be considered inactive if they do not have an active allocation and have not accessed the data in at least one year. All Community directories will be maintained, either on disk or tape, for one year from the date your account is deactivated. For details on the process, see Community file system.
Each project is allocated a directory in the Community file system. The default quota for Community directories is 20 TB and the default name of a Community directory is the project name (i.e., mXYZ). These directories are owned by the Principal Investigators (PIs) and are accessible to everyone in the Unix group associated with the project. If files need to be shared with a group that is different from a project group, PIs and PI Proxies can request a special Community directory by filling out the Project Directory Request form in the "Request Forms" section at the NERSC help portal.
Quotas above the defaults are approved by DOE allocations managers based on information projects provide on their ERCAP application. Short term quota increases can be arranged at NERSC's discretion, but only until the end of the allocation year when they must be approved by a DOE allocation manager via the ERCAP process.
Global Common File System¶
The global common file system is primarily intended for sharing software installations within a team or across computational platforms. The global common file system is a parallel file system optimized for small-block-size access to small files.
These file systems have redundancy in the servers and storage and duplicate copies of metadata, so we expect good stability and reliability.
Global common directories are not backed up. A user may also opt to archive their data in HPSS, but it is also recommended that software stacks be managed by a versioning control system such as git.
Data for active users is not purged from this space. A user or project will be considered inactive if they do not have an active allocation and have not accessed the data in at least one year.
Each project is allocated a directory in the global common file system. The default quota for directories is 10 GB and the default name of a directory is the project name (i.e., mXYZ). These directories are owned by the Principal Investigators (PIs) and are accessible to everyone in the Unix group associated with the project. If files need to be shared with a group that is different from a project group, PIs and PI Proxies can request a special directory by contacting NERSC consulting.
Scratch File Systems¶
Perlmutter has a large, local, parallel scratch file system dedicated to the users of the system. The scratch file system is intended for temporary uses such as storage of checkpoints or application result output. If you need to retain files longer than the purge period (see below), the files should be copied to the Community file systems or to HPSS.
Purging on Scratch File Systems
Running commands with the intent of circumventing purge policies on scratch file systems is not allowed.
These file systems have redundancy in the servers and storage, so we expect good stability and reliability. The extreme high demand placed on these storage systems results in some degradation of availability for the systems (97% is the target overall availability).
Due to the extremely large volume of data and its temporary nature, backups are not performed.
These file systems are purged on a regular interval as communicated to users of the system (e.g., all files not accessed within 8 weeks). All files in scratch are eligible for deletion one week after your account is deactivated.
Each user is allocated a directory in the Perlmutter's scratch file system. The default quota is 20 TB.
HPSS Data Archive¶
The HPSS data archive is intended for long-term, offline storage (tape) of results that you wish to retain, but you do not need immediate access to. The primary HPSS access is via HSI, or HTAR for small files. We also have access to HPSS via gridFTP or Globus. Tape backups of the other file systems are stored in a special partition of the archive.
The HPSS service is configured to be stable and reliable, but is routinely taken offline for short periods for planned maintenance.
By default, a single copy of the data will be written to tape. Data loss due to hardware faults can occur, but is very rare. All tapes are currently stored at the NERSC facility. There is no off-site backup, and in principle there is a chance of permanent data loss in the case of a site disaster such as a fire. Critical data should be manually protected by making an explicit second copy: you can make another copy within the data archive, but for better data protection copy the data to another location.
We do not actively remove data from HPSS, and will communicate with users or data owners should a need arise to reclaim space. Note that in NERSC’s history, we have not deleted files in the HPSS archive due to storage limitations. Projects requiring a firm commitment for data retention should contact NERSC.
Projects receive HPSS allocations at the same time that computational resources are allocated. Each group receives a default allocation of 1 TB.
The Archive is a shared multi-user resource. Use of the Archive is subject to interruption if it is determined that a user's method or pattern of storing or retrieving files significantly impacts other users' activities or undermines the long term viability of the system.
Requests for Data Storage Beyond Defaults¶
NERSC establishes defaults for allocations, retention, and backup to serve the needs of the majority of our users, avoid oversubscription, and place practical limits on the costs of storage provided.
Quotas above the defaults on the Community file system are approved by DOE allocations managers based on information projects provide on their ERCAP application. Short term quota increases can be arranged at NERSC's discretion, but only until the end of the allocation year when they must be approved by a DOE allocation manager via the ERCAP process.
We are willing to work with individual projects to accommodate special needs. If you need additional space, please fill out the "Request a Disk Quota Change" in form in the "Request Forms" section at the NERSC help portal.
Proper Use of Software and Data¶
Please consult the NERSC User Agreement for the policies regarding appropriate use (and limitations on use) of software and data. NOTE: The following classes of software and data raise red flags, and may be prohibited or restricted in some way. Users should carefully consult the User Agreement before moving such information to NERSC systems:
- Classified or controlled military or defense information
- Software without proper licenses
- Export controlled or ITAR software or data
- Personally identifiable information
- Medical or health information
- Proprietary information