Chameleon Legacy Hardware

Chameleon seeks to provide access to an innovative and diverse set of resources for computer science systems research and education.

Our users keep them busy, but after 5 years or so their interest as a bleeding edge research platform tends to diminish, though they typically still provide an excellent platform for education, especially in places where advanced computing systems are otherwise limited or unavailable. At that point, our limited rack space can be better used by newer hardware.

In order to be good stewards of the public investment in our computing resources, the Chameleon Legacy Hardware Program seeks to place this retired hardware where it can do the most good and continue to serve our users. We would like to offer our retired hardware to those members of our community who are interested in joining the Chameleon family as an operator of a Chameleon Associate Site. Being a full or part-time operator of an associate site involves configuring the resources with CHI-in-a-Box, with support from the Chameleon team. As a Chameleon Associate Site you will gain the experience of operating a site federated with a national testbed; read about the experiences of configuring our Associate Site at Northwestern here


Program Goals

  • Ensure good stewardship of public investment in scientific computing

  • Foster reproducible research in computer science

  • Disseminate best practices for operations of cloud computing testbeds

  • Expand Chameleon’s footprint via new Associate Sites

  • Jumpstart new collaborations

Ultimately, the program is intended to improve computer science research nationally by improving the utilization and accessibility of testbed environments, and to ease operations of such systems, by building a base of experienced users, a pipeline for staff with relevant experience, and compiling best practices and lessons learned across a variety of use-cases.


Systems Currently Available

Chameleon currently has 2 racks of servers available for the legacy program, as we retire our Phase 1 installation, each with 42 Dell R630 servers. Each server contains 2x 12 core Intel Xeon E5-2670 v3 “Haswell” processors, and 128 GB of RAM. In addition, each rack contains storage hosted in two Dell FX2 Chassis, each consisting of two FC430 servers and two FD332 Storage blocks, with 16x 2TB drives. Each unit has 2x 10 core eon E5-2650 v3 “Haswell” processors, and 64GB of RAM. Each rack has a Dell S6000-ON openflow switch, as well as a 1g management switch. Servers are connected at 10g, with 40g uplinks available on the switches.

In addition to the racks of compute nodes, there is a rack including two management nodes bringing the total to 3 racks. Using these management nodes, the racks can be used as a multitenant research cloud “out of the box”. Because of that, we prefer to provide these racks as a complete system though we will also consider splitting them up based on applications. 


Program Elements

Partner institutions will execute an MOU with Chameleon that will include the following commitments:

From Chameleon:

  • Long-term loan of “retired” Chameleon hardware

  • Brief consultation with Chameleon on facilities, software, and requirements

  • Access to CHI-in-a-box software and documentation

From the Partner:

  • Commitment to operate full or part-time Chameleon site via CHI-in-a-Box 

  • Transportation of hardware to future host institution

  • Commitment to report progress and success stories back to Chameleon periodically


How do I apply?

To apply for servers, please submit a short application to us via this google form. Applications are encouraged by 05/16 when we plan to start initial discussions with future partners. 


Limitations and other warnings

This hardware has been retired for a reason. There is typically no remaining warranty on the components, and they are often near “end of life” for support from the manufacturers. Failures can and will happen. This is not meant to be “production quality” equipment and should not be thought of as equivalent to buying new hardware. It will be less efficient to operate, and less reliable than new systems.

Chameleon staff will provide best-effort support for CHI-in-a-Box, including periodic packaged upgrades as well as user support for users using the Associate Site; the Associate Site is responsible for general system administration as well as CHI-in-a-Box deployment and operation.

While these racks were part of a larger system, they depended on external storage and networking resources, which will not be part of this program. The racks come with switches to allow communication within the rack, you will need to provide your own external network connections, storage systems, licenses, power connections, etc. Success almost always involves adding some resources from your local computing environment.

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