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Estimation of Costs and Pay per Use on a Large-scale Shared Computer Science Testbed: the Grid'5000 Case

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Abstract

Grid'5000 is a large-scale science testbed: multiple academic organizations contribute to some of the costs associated to operating and maintaining it, to the point many approximations must be made when attempting to build a view of the overall costs associated to it. However, such an approximated cost has been estimated, first in 2015, and more recently in 2017 and 2018 as part as a standardized infrastructure cost evaluation for all large scientific instruments on France's national research infrastructure roadmap. From this approximated cost, we can derive pricing. However, this does not imply that we can make users pay for their usage of Grid'5000, as: (1) many users are affiliated in a way or another to the organizations contributing to supporting the costs of the infrastructure; (2) we need to maintain access to at least some who are not in the context of scientific collaborations; (3) the way costs were approximated does not qualify Grid'5000 usage as an eligible cost in the context of funded projects as it is not auditable. In practice, this only leaves foreign academics with no ongoing collaboration with their French colleagues and private sector users as potential paying users. Being a minority, we can't expect a significant revenue stream from users with such a profile. In theory, we could also hope to invoice organizations who benefit more than they contribute to costs, but in practice, too many users have multiple affiliations, making such a scheme difficult to operate. In conclusion, we do not believe we can transition to a pay-for-use model for a majority of Grid'5000 users without a major increase in bureaucracy to associate usage to affiliation and a reduction to the number of organizations supporting the costs of the scientific instrument. This would certainly have a negative impact on usage, increasing the number of custom-built mini-testbeds and therefore the overall cost to the research ecosystem.
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Dates and versions

hal-02011425 , version 1 (07-02-2019)
hal-02011425 , version 2 (20-02-2019)

Identifiers

  • HAL Id : hal-02011425 , version 2

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David Margery, Lucas Nussbaum. Estimation of Costs and Pay per Use on a Large-scale Shared Computer Science Testbed: the Grid'5000 Case. 2019. ⟨hal-02011425v2⟩
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