Even though the latest press conference by the Federal Council announced the easing of some restrictions imposed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, in order to keep the risk of coronavirus spreading as low as possible, the forum will be held in digital format only.
Traditional HPC computing centres have mainly been used to solve scientific problems posed by the so-called "hard" sciences such as physics, chemistry, or astrophysics. Their infrastructures include most of the compute and storage resources available on most university campuses.
However, the arrival of life sciences, in particular medical sciences, and more recently human sciences has "generated" a new class of users for whom the use of traditional tools (command line, scripting in bash or python) is considered an insurmountable obstacle.
Nevertheless, the data analysis needs of these neophyte users grows exponentially. Therefore, tools trying to simplify these tasks exist but remain outside of the scope of the applications available on traditional HPC resources. This has led these researchers to install many powerful workstations under their desks that are never used optimally, are problematic to manage, and are not cost effective from a budgetary standpoint.
These “novice” users nevertheless are the main group of researchers using scientific computing resources in generalist universities. It is important to address their needs by providing them adequate and timely available resources without burdening the IT personnel with the management and support of heterogeneous and geographically scattered systems.