In April 2022 we have made some changes to how you can request BEAR services (including CaStLeS), and also changes to free vs. premium resources. In this post we’ll set out some of the changes, and help you choose the right forms to use.
These changes were authorised by the Research Computing Management Committee in late 2021. We have reduced ambiguity about whether you will need to pay for resources, and also removed the differences that previously existed for researchers in certain parts of the University (particularly life science researchers).
New forms in the Service Desk
Our new forms are available in the Service Desk:
- Research section: https://intranet.birmingham.ac.uk/bear/sd/bear
- Register a New BEAR/CaStLeS Project: https://intranet.birmingham.ac.uk/bear/sd/new-bear-project
- Edit a BEAR/CaStLeS Project: https://intranet.birmingham.ac.uk/bear/sd/change-bear-project
- Add Premium Services to a BEAR/CaStLeS Project: https://intranet.birmingham.ac.uk/bear/sd/add-premium-bear
- Request New Software on BEAR Systems: https://intranet.birmingham.ac.uk/bear/sd/new-bear-software
- Help with BEAR Compute: https://intranet.birmingham.ac.uk/bear/sd/help-with-bear-compute
- Report a BEAR Fault: https://intranet.birmingham.ac.uk/bear/sd/report-a-fault
- Request Access to a Tier 2 HPC System: https://intranet.birmingham.ac.uk/bear/tier2hpc/request
- Research Software Engineering: Advice, Coaching or Coding: https://intranet.birmingham.ac.uk/bear/sd/bear-software-coaching-coding
- Other BEAR Request – use this form if none of the others seem appropriate: https://intranet.birmingham.ac.uk/bear/sd/other-bear-request
Changes to free vs. paid-for resources
If you are a life science researcher then you will know about CaStLeS – Compute and Storage for Life Sciences. These are dedicated resources exclusively for the use of research groups carrying out research in the life sciences. CaStLeS has a substantial dedicated section of BlueBEAR, which is not changing – and any life science researchers can access it.
Historically, CaStLeS storage was not subject to the same limits as the general Research Data Store. However, now the same limit is applied to all researchers – each project can request up to 3TB of storage for active or working research data. Requests for additional storage or dedicated compute resources, including VMs, should be made using the ‘Add Premium Services to a BEAR/CaStLeS Project’ form once the project has been created.
BEAR Cloud and CaStLeS virtual machines are also no longer available for free, but should be requested using the ‘Add Premium Services to a BEAR/CaStLeS Project’ form once the project has been created.
What is still free?
Most BEAR services are still free at the point of use, and are centrally funded by the University. You can use BlueBEAR (including the popular, interactive BEAR Portal), have up to 3TB storage for active or working research data in the Research Data Store, access Research Software Engineering advice, coaching or coding, use our on-campus software repository BEAR Gitlab, attend our training courses and much more. For a full list of our services visit our web pages.
What if I can’t pay?
Premium resources are usually paid-for options. However, in exceptional circumstances, you can apply to the Strategic Resource Allocation Group (SRAG) for free access to a premium resource, but you will be required to provide justification. SRAG is a sub-committee of the Research Computing Management Committee, and they will review your application.
SRAG also review all requests to use the University’s allocation of EPSRC-funded Tier 2 HPC resources.
Getting advice or asking for help
If you’re not sure what to do with the new forms, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we are happy to offer advice and answer your questions.