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SCD News > SCD story/photo of the week: September 16, 2004

MySCD Portal:
Gateway to NCAR computing resources

SCD's Lief Magden and Myra Custard

SCD's Leif Magden and Myra Custard have worked hard to develop MySCD Portal, a customizable Web interface through which users can access NCAR computing resources.

Detail from MySCD Portal home page

This week SCD released version 2.0 of MySCD Portal, a customizable browser interface and port of entry to NCAR computing resources. The portal lets users submit and control jobs to supercomputers, monitor job progress, and access and maintain user-generated data — all via the Web.

Version 2.0 of the portal features a new Web page that displays information on General Accounting Unit (GAU) charges, not just in tabular format but in colorful pie charts, bar charts, and x-y graphs. The GAU is the unit of common currency users spend to access Community Computing and Climate Simulation Laboratory resources.

"Users can now actually pull up graphs of their charging history," says Dick Valent, assistant manager of SCD's User Support Section. "When you look at a graph, you get a whole lot more — you can take in a lot of information at a glance, as opposed to plodding through numbers. A picture is worth a thousand words!"

The GAU page is customizable, so users can configure it to see what they want to see. "For instance," says Leif Magden, an SCD software engineer who helped develop the portal, "if you're a scientist who submit jobs for several different projects, you can get the information for all of them. You can look at your current charging status, how much you spent in the last 30 or 90 days, how much you were charged for each machine — the different computers, the Mass Storage System. You can see your charging trends and limits, your recent charging history, your lifetime GAU allocations."

Through MySCD Portal, users can also:

  • Submit jobs to babyblue, blackforest, and bluesky
  • Obtain job queue information
  • See the latest SCD News stories and weekly photos
  • Access the Daily Bulletin
  • View SCD-specific computer user documentation
  • Use search tools for email aliases, research datasets, and the NCAR/UCAR Web site

Helping scientists concentrate on science

SCD's goal in developing the portal has been to integrate and simplify the tools scientists need to do their research. "We're trying to make it so that users who want to run a simulation to prove or disprove a theory can concentrate on their science," Leif says. "They won't have to memorize UNIX commands, pull up a shell, and use a command-line interface to access computing resources — they can just point and click."

"Our long-term goal is to provide a Web interface that gives users a single sign-on to SCD services," adds Lana Stillwell, head of the Infrastructure Applications Group that is charged with developing the portal. "We're not quite there yet — we'll be providing periodic upgrades over the next couple of years — but we're on the way."

The portal is part of SCD's ongoing commitment to advancing information technology. SCD is also pursuing research in large-scale component frameworks, collaboration environments, analysis and visualization capabilities, data strategies, data mining, and knowledge grids.

To learn more

SCD staff will provide live demonstrations of the SCD Portal on the following dates and locations:

Thursday, 23 September 2004
Foothills Lab Main Seminar Room (1022)

Friday, 24 September 2004
Mesa Lab Main Seminar Room

SCD wants to hear suggestions from users on where improvements could be made in the format or services. Please send any feedback to scdportal-feedback@ucar.edu.

On the web

NCAR users can access the SCD Portal from the SCD home page:


Or directly:


Log in using your gatekeeper login and password. The SCD Portal functions best in Netscape 6.x or higher and Internet Explorer 5.x or higher.

See also the following stories in SCD News that describe the current and initial releases of the portal:

— Lynda Lester

Photo: Lynda Lester, NCAR/SCD

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