Policy rationale

This policy is designed to provide more equitable access to HMS research computing resources, particularly the O2 high-performance computing (HPC) cluster and associated data storage.  It is also driven by requirements from Harvard University for HMS to establish rates for the use of HPC resources. It aligns with federal agreements that govern Facilities and Administrative (F&A) rates.

Policy statement

Harvard Medical School (HMS) provides high-performance computing (HPC) resources for the benefit of the HMS mission, including research and education.  These resources include high-performance computing nodes (CPU and GPU), storage (computable and file storage), and research computing support services. The use of these resources is governed by the following policies.

  1. Researchers using HMS IT systems, including HPC systems, must comply with HMS-IT usage and security policies. These policies include adherence to fairshare policies, quota policies, queuing policies, security training, password policies, and account management policies, and are found on the HMS IT website.
  2. All users of HMS IT systems must have an HMS HMS account. Users must provide sufficient demographic information to determine affiliation, usage tracking, and billing, and must sign a usage agreement before using the systems. Users must inform HMS if their affiliation has changed prior to using HMS resources under any new affiliation.
  3. Data on the Orchestra 2 (O2) high performance computing (HPC) system and storage may not include sensitive data, which are defined, in this case, as data that meet the Harvard University Data Security Level (DSL) 4 designation. DSL 4 data include electronic protected health information (ePHI) or federally regulated data, such as those that must meet FISMA requirements.  The highest level of data security level approved for use on the O2 system is Harvard DSL 3 data.
  4. Compute usage of the O2 system will be measured in compute hours. Storage usage of the O2 system will be measured in bytes and tracked by current total usage for all labs that use over 1 Terabyte of storage. Usage will be tracked per user.
  5. Researchers from labs whose PIs do not have a primary or secondary faculty appointment in an HMS Quad department (external users) will be charged for use of HMS High-Performance Computing resources. External users must agree to pay for usage at rates established and approved by HMS. Use will be billed quarterly.
  6. It is the responsibility of individual external users to cover the costs of their HPC usage and storage. External users may make arrangements for payments to be handled by their institution or through some other mechanism, but individual external users are ultimately responsible for ensuring coverage of the cost of their use.
  7. In keeping with Harvard Medical School’s negotiated F&A rate with the National Institutes of Health, researchers designated by Harvard Medical School leadership as ‘Quad A’ will not be charged for usage of HMS HPC resources. All usage by Quad A researchers will be managed by allocations to the appointing departments and will be reported regularly in departmental utilization reports.
  8. Researchers with laboratories located in a non-HMS institution and who have a primary or secondary appointment in an HMS Basic Science department will be designated as ‘Quad B’ or ‘Quad C’, and will be treated identically to Quad A researchers with respect to charges for use of HMS HPC resources at this time.  In the future, this policy may change, as circumstances change, and particularly when a new HMS policy is developed that addresses charging policies for the use of all HMS research core facilities. All Quad B or C usage of computing resources will be managed by allocations to the appointing HMS Quad departments, and be reported regularly in departmental utilization reports.
  9. Use of research computing resources as part of student course participation, instruction, and training programs approved by the HMS Program in Medical Education or the Program in Graduate Education will not be charged, and will be tracked separately by course or educational program, and by instructor.

HMS Research Computing provides research high-performance computing (HPC) and data management support services, and can advise researchers on the most effective means of allocating resources, managing data, or transferring data to optimize or reduce costs. 

Roles and responsibilities

  • Dean of Faculty:  Final Academic authority for this policy
  • Executive Dean for Administration: Final Administrative authority for this policy
  • Dean for Research Operations and Global Programs: Academic accountable party
  • Chief Information Officer: Administrative accountable party
  • Associate Dean for Research Cores and Technology: Academic implementation lead
  • Sr. Director, Research Computing: Administrative implementation lead

Review period

This policy is reviewed at least annually.

Revision history

Version 1.0. Approved on October 28, 2020

  • HMS Primary Responsible Office: Dean for Research Operations and Global Programs
  • Other Responsible Office(s): Chief Information Officer
  • Approval Body: Dean of Faculty, Executive Dean for Administration
  • Version Number: 1.0
  • Version Approval Date: October 28, 2020
  • Original Approval Date: October 28, 2020
  • Effective Date: January 4, 2021
  • Revision Date: n/a
  • Applicable To: Harvard Schools and HMS Affiliates
  • Subject Area: Research Computing
  • Key Contacts: William Barnett (wbarnett@hms.harvard.edu), Caroline Shamu (caroline_shamu@hms.harvard.edu)
  • Security Permissions: Accessible to Harvard Schools and HMS Affiliates