EPCC News 88

December 2020

Celebrating 30 years since our foundation

From our Director

2020 was going to be an important anniversary year for EPCC. We had already booked the venue for our “30 years old” event and were looking forward to an important year of celebration coupled to the arrival of ARCHER2 and the opening of the Edinburgh International Data Facility.

But as Robert Burns wrote in 1785, “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men/Gang aft agley”.

That 2020 went very awry is not news, but what may be news to some readers is that throughout the year EPCC has continued to operate all of its HPC and Data services from our ACF data centre and also transitioned to largely working from home. We have also continued to grow – we now have over 110 staff – some of whom I have never met in person. A strange year indeed – and very difficult for many people throughout society.

I have been incredibly proud of EPCC during this period. Many staff have been involved in COVID-19 related projects and the provision of data services. In particular we have worked with EPSRC and STFC to provide accelerated access to our HPC services for modelling of the virus, and the Scottish Government and Public Health Scotland for many projects within the National Safe Haven targeted on understanding the pandemic through public health and other public data. Within three weeks of the start of lock-down we had worked with eDRIS from Public Health Scotland to create a COVID-19 research data repository. This is now part of the UK’s National Core Studies programme to develop UK-wide datasets for research purposes.

While there have been delays to ARCHER2, we are making progress and we now have an initial system installed onsite for early users, which is slightly larger than the current ARCHER system. We expect to install the remainder of the system in early 2021.

We will also take ownership of the new Computer Room 4 at the ACF in mid-December. That the building work has continued throughout the pandemic is down to the excellent management of the project by our builder – Robertson. This new room will hold the first full deployment of the Edinburgh International Data Facility infrastructure from early next year. A key moment in our support of the Data-Driven Innovation programme of the Edinburgh and South-East Scotland City Region.

30 years ago, I do not think anyone could have dreamt that EPCC would have grown to the size and breadth it is today. I personally feel very privileged to be its Director during its 30th year and I look forward to many more years of success.

Mark Parsons

EPCC Director