The Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics (DEB) IT personnel operate a secure, high-speed network and data center that run within the UCSF network, for the purpose of supporting data collection, cleaning, analysis and storage for research investigators. Access to these resources is available to individuals and research teams on a subscription basis, charges for which are distributed using the UCSF recharge mechanism. Subscription costs are allowable charges on federally-sponsored grants and contracts.
What We Operate
Our network is comprised of ~400 monitored devices, including switches, firewalls, SSL-VPN, and a range of physical and virtual servers, all specifically configured to support the secure collection, cleaning, storage and analysis of research data at domestic and international locations. We operate two data centers that run at disparate locations to provide redundancy and failover of critical services, and we support the infrastructure and bandwidth that enables communications between our sites.
Within this framework, we operate approximately 330 servers, including hypervisors and virtual servers, in eight racks split between two data centers: one on-campus, and one off-campus. Communication between these two data centers occurs via an encrypted link that allows the machines to exist as if on a single logical network. Users are unware of this split. Our team also runs an in-house email system comprised of seven servers (Microsoft Exchange), integrated directly into our data acquisition systems.
How We Deliver
Our IT infrastructure supports research and training-oriented websites, databases, file storage and sharing, email, data capture and acquisition, analysis and more. Our users access these resources from local computers that act as terminals, and all computing is performed and hosted on the servers, behind our firewalls. This enables our users to work from any location that has an internet connection, without having to install and maintain software packages on local laptops and desktop machines. Files and data also reside on the servers in our data centers, rather than on local hard drives. This support model enables the delivery of an enhanced level of security for our users, and efficient support of a wide array of software and hardware resources.
Individual users are spared the cost and effort of purchasing and maintaining software licenses for most business and analytical software, and with this model, users do not have to keep track of where their files are stored among their various local devices and portable media. We can also issue terminals to our users that access all of our network resources, which spares users and projects the cost of purchasing, maintaining and replacing laptop and desktop computers.
We primarily provide users support via Microsoft Remote Desktop protocol (even for Linux machines), which enables us to offer a broad aray of resources, supported by a small group of staff personnel (~2.3 FTE).
Our Recharge Operation
We offer these resources to our users on a subscription basis. Because we are a self-supporting group, we work hard to keep our costs down without compromising service. Our recharge operation is designed to distribute the annual cost of supporting these resources equally among all subscribed users, so we are careful to ensure that all subscribers can benefit equally from what we offer.
The UCSF Budget and Resource Management Office reviews our recharge operation annually, and the charges for our services are allowed on federally-funded grants and contracts.
Recharges are processed monthly for each user, and are distributed according to each user’s current payroll distributions, unless we are directed otherwise.