Operations Team Helps Keep ACCESS on Track

By Megan Johnson, NCSA
A diverse group of people working on a project together. The ACCESS logo is on a large white pad of paper.

The ACCESS Operations team does so much more than just run the day-to-day at ACCESS. It performs a number of essential functions for ACCESS. Operations is responsible for everything from leading ACCESS-wide efforts on resource and service provider integration roadmaps to the wildly successful three-tiered Student Training and Engagement Program (STEP). There’s a lot going on within the Operations team, and everything it’s accomplished in the last year happened while migrating from XSEDE to ACCESS.

Here are the highlights of the Operations team’s accomplishments in Year 1 of the ACCESS program.


XSEDE built up quite a large community of resource providers and researchers who used those resources over its lifespan. Preparing to migrate to a completely new model required a great deal of knowledge and work. Thankfully, the operations team has a surplus of experience to lean on among its ranks. Long-time members of XSEDE took what they’d learned over the years and used that knowledge to create a robust roadmap for transitioning to ACCESS. Here are some of the processes Operations completed during this prep time:

  • Created a functional and collaborative project framework
  • Created Integration Roadmaps for existing resource providers
  • Began engagement with existing resource providers
  • Established the ACCESS program’s internet presence
  • Engineered an authentication system using CILogon and COmanage to support more than 100,000 users


The transition to ACCESS was a huge task for all ACCESS teams, but Operations had the unenviable duty of making sure core services remained operational during the move. Throughout this busy time, Operations expertly guided resource providers onto the new platform. Here is what the Operations team accomplished during the transition from XSEDE to ACCESS:

  • Seamlessly migrated key enterprise services
  • Completed integration of existing resource providers
  • Implemented a seamless network migration path for resource providers to use CONECTnet
  • Began conversations leading to the XSEDE Service Provider Forum’s rechartering for ACCESS
  • Established active cybersecurity vulnerability scanning

Early Operations

If you’ve ever moved, you know that getting your stuff into a new place isn’t the end of the job. Once you’re there, you need to plan how you’ll unpack and what you’ll do with the new space. Transitioning from one national cyberinfrastructure organization to another is no different. Once the transition was done, it was time to assess how to best utilize the new organization and how to fully integrate XSEDE resources into ACCESS platforms. The following accomplishments represent some of the hard work the Operations team undertook to make ACCESS a success:

  • Built out team relationships and administrative processes that would ensure project success for the duration of the award
  • Conducted surveys leading to improved Integration Roadmaps
  • Implemented a new ticketing system in collaboration with other ACCESS program areas
  • Improved IP address and DNS name management
  • Updated security and access policies
  • Launched the Student Training and Engagement Program

Several of these early Operations accomplishments deserve a special mention. Migrating the ticketing system was a huge undertaking all on its own. The members of Operations that were in charge of this migration had to identify core attributes any new ticketing system would require to fulfill the needs of ACCESS users. They had to get feedback from stakeholders, find possible products to test, put the top choices through a rigorous evaluation process and, finally, make a recommendation. All that needed to be accomplished before they could even begin the migration process.

Once the working group selected a replacement ticketing system, they had to construct a prototype to test and implement a trial version of the ticketing system, then develop a transition plan and more timelines. Finally, they’d need to organize training for everyone who needed to use the system. In the end, the Operations team received amazing feedback from the other ACCESS teams, particularly in reference to its commitment to collaboration with all ACCESS teams and stakeholders. It was during the ticketing migration that the teams felt a fuller sense of community within the ACCESS organization, reminding all teams that they each are working toward a common goal of making ACCESS as successful as possible.

The group within ACCESS working on cybersecurity was also able to accomplish a great deal in just one year. Led by Derek Simmel, co-principal investigator (co-PI) and cybersecurity lead for ACCESS Operations, the team was proud to say it had no hours of downtime due to a security incident over the last year. The team also adopted the Trusted CI Framework and accomplished a number of other feats during this time, which you can read more about here.

The development and deployment of the new Student Training and Engagement Program (STEP) was a smashing success. The program is dedicated to inclusivity and promoting careers in cyberinfrastructure, and students are currently engaged in internships at HPC centers around the country. The program has attracted a wide diversity of applicants from all over the United States. The tremendous start of this program bodes well for its continued growth. If you’re interested in reading more about STEP, you can find information here and here.

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