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Research

VCL Resources for Research

The VCL has virtual machines with high processor and memory counts loaded with applications provisioned for research use. These machines can be reserved for up to 14 days before a new reservation will be required and the user will not be required to remain connected to the machine. Researchers or others interested in using these resources should contact the ITS Help Desk at X3192 or email to itshelp@odu.edu.

These virtual machines are being provided with the following initial applications and configurations:

  • RHELinux with MPI (one or more machines may be requested to establish a cluster)
  • ARC GIS v9.3.1
  • MatLab 2012A
  • SAS V9.3
  • SPSS V21

Requests for Custom Software Titles

Faculty members that have custom software application requests should contact the ITS Help Desk. The request should include the software title, licensing information and a point of contact. ITS staff will contact the faculty member for additional information. Faculty members should expect a 2 - 3 week time frame to get the application loaded in a test format to insure it will run adequately in the VCL.

Please note that some applications - particularly those that are graphic intensive, may not work well through the VCL. Applications that are graphic intensive may create issues that we cannot technically overcome to provide a good online experience. Testing the application through the VCL is the best option to determine what the outcome will be. After testing the faculty member can decide if the performance is adequate for their research needs.

Optimizing Access to Data

Users should understand that in today's technology, many desktops have processors, memory and storage that may be comparable to that found in the IT Enterprise Server Infrastructure. The most significant difference between the two is that the central infrastructure is hardware designed for high durability and sustained operations needed in a community or shareable resource.

One of the main issues with establishing acceptable performance for research in the VCL is data access. It can be prohibitive to run research applications in the VCL using data that is stored on a local computer that the user is connecting to the VCL from. Running an application in this way will almost certainly work, but may inject unwanted latency in the applications performance providing a less than desirable experience. The reason is the data being accessed is being encapsulated in the VCL connection RDP stream to be sent to the server every time there is a data request. Application run times will be significantly improved once the data is copied up to the VCL environment where it is immediately accessible by the application on demand.

For the best performance when using the VCL, we recommend that users manage data access in the following priority order to insure the best performance:

  1. Copy all data to the VCL environment that is provided prior to running any applications against it. This means taking a few extra minutes to copy it from where it is at to the C: drive of the virtual machine you are connecting to; this will provide direct access to the data by the application during the operation.
  2. If data cannot be copied to the VCL environment for use, it should be located on OCCS hosted network storage prior to running applications against it. ITS provides the highest bandwidth and dedicated network resources for communications between servers and storage in the data center.
  3. If the data cannot be moved and it is not on central storage, the user should map a drive directly from the VCL machine to the storage that holds the data. This drive mapping should be via IP or NetBIOS drive mapping NOT a WebDAV interface.

Access to data in methods other than described above will provide dwindling results in application performance. The potential worst situation for data access would be attaching to the VCL via a laptop or notebook on wireless and accessing data that is located on the local machines hard drive or USB via the RDP shared drive.

In all situations, please remember to save data and results to a place where they can be recovered for future reference. The VCL systems do not retain data once the user has relinquished the virtual machine from use.

For resource access, assistance with your data access strategy, and VCL optimization for any project please contact the ITS Help Desk.