A - Primarily intended to fund technology
National Science Foundation (NSF)
The Campus Cyberinfrastructure program invests in coordinated campus-level networking and cyberinfrastructure improvements, innovation, integration, and engineering for science applications and distributed research projects. Learning and workforce development (LWD) in CI is explicitly addressed in the program. Science-driven requirements are the primary motivation for any proposed activity.
Science-driven requirements are the primary motivation for any proposed activity. Proposals will be evaluated on the strength of the science enabled (including research and education) as drivers for investment and innovation in data networking infrastructure, innovation, and engineering. A common theme across all aspects of the CC* program is the critical importance of the partnership among campus-level CI experts, including the campus Information Technology (IT)/networking/data organization, contributing domain scientists, research groups, and educators necessary to engage in, and drive, new networking capabilities and approaches in support of scientific discovery. Proposals across the program should reflect and demonstrate this partnership on campus. Proposals will be evaluated on the strength of institutional partnerships, as they are expected to play a central role in developing and implementing the eventual network and data infrastructure upgrades.
CC* awards will be supported in five program areas:
- Data-Driven Networking Infrastructure for the Campus and Researcher awards will be supported at up to $500,000 total for up to 2 years;
- Regional Connectivity for Small Institutions awards will be supported at up to $1,000,000 total for up to 2 years;
- Network Integration and Applied Innovation awards will be supported at up to $1,000,000 total for up to 2 years [in some cases, these awards are limited to $500,000 total—see program area (3) in Section II. Program Description];
- Campus Computing and the Computing Continuum awards will be supported at up to $400,000 total for up to 2 years;
- Planning Grants and CI-Research Alignment awards will be supported at up to $200,000 total for up to 2 years [in some cases these awards are limited to $100,000 total—see program area (6) in Section II. Program Description].
All proposals submitted to the CC* program, with the exception of area (5) must include a Campus CI plan within which the proposed CI improvements are conceived, designed, and implemented in the context of a coherent campus-wide strategy and approach to CI that is integrated horizontally intra-- campus and vertically with regional and national CI investments and best practices. This Campus CI plan must be included as a Supplementary Document and is limited to no more than 5 pages. The website, http://fasterdata.es.net/campusCIplanning/, offers a number of Campus CI plans provided by existing CC* program awardees as examples. Proposals addressing a multi--institution or regional activity and approach to coordinated and integrated CI may submit a Campus CI plan representing the multi--institution group or region.
All proposals submitted to CC* are expected to address the relevant cybersecurity issues and challenges related to their proposed activities. Depending on the type of proposal, these issues may include, but are not limited to: data integrity, privacy, network security measures, federated access and identity management, and infrastructure monitoring.
As a campus CI program, funded activities should represent ongoing opportunities for student engagement, education, and training. Proposals that demonstrate opportunities to engage students directly in the deployment, operation, and advancement of the CI funded activities, consistent with the required Campus CI plan, are encouraged. Note that NSF encourages Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) supplement proposals on active awards as well.
History of Funding
Recently funded projects through this program can be found at https://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/advancedSearchResult?ProgEleCode=1640,7726,8080&BooleanElement=Any&BooleanRef=Any&ActiveAwards=trueresults.
The CC* program welcomes proposals in five program areas: (1) Data-Driven Networking Infrastructure for the Campus and Researcher; (2) Regional Connectivity for Small Institutions; (3) Network Integration and Applied Innovation; (4) Campus Computing and the Computing Continuum; and (5) Planning Grants and CI-Research Alignment. These are described in detail below.
Data Driven Networking Infrastructure for the Campus and Researcher
Proposals submitted to this area should address network infrastructure improvements at the campus level to enable national and global high-performance end-to-end access to dynamic network services that in turn enable rapid, unimpeded movement of diverse and distributed scientific data sets and advanced computing. These networking improvements include, but are not limited to, the following types of activities:
- Network upgrades within a campus network to support a wide range of science data flows (including large files, distributed data, sensor networks, real-time data sources, and virtualized instruments for computer systems research);
- Re-architecting a campus network to support large science data flows, for example, by designing and building a Science DMZ (see http://fasterdata.es.net/science-dmz/ for more information on the Science DMZ approach); and/or
- A network connection upgrade for the campus connection to a regional optical exchange or point of presence that connects to a state/regional/national network aggregation point prioritizing support for research and education.
Proposals may wish to consider the application of new wireless technologies as an element of their engineering solution to network-based challenges in enabling scientific research and education on their campus – this may, for example, include multi-gigabit or environment-constrained technologies to connect new instrumentation, resources, or communities relevant to the proposing institution. Note that any wireless solution proposed should address research and education needs as the singular priority, as opposed to a general campus wireless network.
Proposals must address scientific and engineering project and application drivers that require network engineering or upgrades of their existing infrastructure. Proposals must also present project-specific end-to-end scenarios for data movement, distributed computing, and other end-to-end services driving the networking upgrade. Proposals are strongly encouraged to include in their description of data movement scenarios and use cases a quantitative element, for example providing current or historical data flow rates.
Regional Connectivity for Small Institutions
This area supports broadening participation and significantly widening the set of institutions connected to the regional and national research and education network fabric. This area specifically targets groups of smaller institutions with fundamental challenges in networking infrastructure and resources. This area supports increased research and education (R&E) network connectivity across smaller institutions coordinated and led by an Regional Optical Network (RON) or a leadership institution in R&E networking in the region.
Proposals are required to address campus networking needs spanning multiple under-resourced institutions. Proposals addressing a single institution are not allowed in this area and will be returned without review. Proposals may choose to apply an alternative design framework to the conventional single institution context in Area (1) and consider an aggregation model where some or all associated resources and services (e.g., Science DMZ) are centralized at a regional level.
Proposals submitted to this area must address scientific research and education needs driving the proposed improvements in R&E networking connectivity on campus and/or externally.
Proposals may focus on upgrading an institution's connectivity to the national research and education community and/or point to a need to redesign their campus network to better support academic data flows, such as the Science DMZ approach (see http://fasterdata.es.net/fasterdata/science-dmz/ for more information). Connectivity solutions between R&E buildings and sites are also in scope.
Proposals in this area should focus on establishing their institutions' science research and education needs and aspirations and discuss how that translates to the need for greater connectedness and investment in network capacity. Institutions whose missions are primarily education-focused may choose to present their scientific needs in the context of network-enabled education activities and distance education. Proposals are encouraged to discuss research and education drivers with specific descriptions of these drivers.
Proposals are expected to address coordination activities with the participating small institutions by planning for one or more meeting events starting in year 1.
Proposals may include equipment and resources targeted for the state or regional network infrastructure. It is expected that such investments will be justified in the proposal in the context of needed improvements at the state and regional aggregation level in order to support the target institutions' external connectivity regionally, nationally, and globally for enabling R&E collaborations.
Network Integration and Applied Innovation
This program area supports end-to-end network CI through integration of existing and new technologies and applied innovation. The goal is to take advantage of research results, prototypes, and emerging innovations to use them to enable specified researchers in a networking context. Proposals in this area may leverage new and existing investments in network infrastructure, services, and tools by combining or extending capabilities to work as part of the CI environment used by scientific applications and users.
Proposals in this area are expected to reflect innovation in advanced networking. As a result, this area is not appropriate for projects whose costs are dominated by equipment purchases. Proposals in this area support the development and integration of innovative networking capabilities and network-related software development, and deployment activities resulting in an operational environment prototype are expected to be part of the proposed activities.
A broad range of activities is covered by this area, including but not limited to:
- Integration of networking protocols and technologies with science application layer processes and workflows, for instance, for large-scale shared scientific datasets and/or large-scale remote computational resources;
- Transition of successful research prototypes in Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and wireless networking technologies to distributed scientific environments and campus infrastructure;
- Applications of networking hardware and software developed on NSFFutureCloud facilities (e.g., ChameleonCloud and CloudLab), including the integration of new technologies such as programmable network interfaces;
- Networking solutions exploiting virtualization, distributed computing and Software-Defined Infrastructure (SDI), including cloud services and direct campus-to-cloud connections;
- Innovative research prototypes integrating programmable packet processing components into campus infrastructure or exploring applications of software-defined data planes in support of high-performance data distribution; and
- Network engineering support through the creation and application of new and novel procedures and tools and network measurement and monitoring software for solving end-to-end network performance issues, especially for dynamically constructed network services.
Proposals in this area must identify, in the Project Description, one or more supported science or engineering research projects or applications and describe how the proposed network integration activities will support those projects, particularly in the context of addressing data movement, throughput, and predictable performance end-to-end.
Campus Computing and the Computing Continuum
Local campus computing resources have emerged as an important aggregated and shared layer of scientific computing, as evidenced by the growth in Open Science Grid (an NSF-funded distributed scientific computing fabric of shared computing clusters across more than 100 institutions) productivity that will approach 2.4 billion CPU hours delivered in scientific computing in calendar year 2019.
This program area promotes coordinated approaches in scientific computing at the campus level. This area invests in the seeding of new and shared computing resources at the campus level through investments in capacity computing in campus clusters. The program promotes a coordinated approach incentivizing multi-campus and national resource sharing.
It is expected that the campus-wide computing needs are addressed in the proposal; a proposal focusing on a single science domain or project use will not be considered for funding.
All proposals into this area must address:
- Scientific and engineering projects and their research computing needs, describing project-specific scenarios for scientific computing tied to the proposed computing resources;
- Features, capabilities, and software platforms representing the proposed computing resources; and
- Scientific computing codes expected to run on the resources.
Proposals are encouraged to consider open source virtualization technologies.
High-Performance Network Connectivity and Specification: Proposals should describe the network connectivity of the proposed computing resource, both intra-campus [for example, the campus network path(s) connecting the resource with the researchers and driving science applications on campus], and inter-campus (for example, showing the network path connecting with the regional exchange point or Internet2). Proposals should include in their plans the deployment of a PerfSonar based network performance measurement capability to initially measure achievable end-to-end network performance for scientific data flows between the resource and relevant end points of researchers.
The Cluster as a Shared Resource Intra-campus and Inter-campus: Proposals should describe (1) their approach to sharing the proposed computing resource across the science drivers and researchers at their institution; (2) how the resource will be accessed by external research groups; and (3) how the resource is coordinated with external resources allowing the institution's researchers to seamlessly access computing resources at other campuses, regional and national computing resources, and/or production cloud resources, if appropriate.
Proposals should commit to a minimum of 20% shared time on the cluster and describe their approach to making the cluster available as a shared resource external to the campus, with access and authorization according to local administrative policy. Conversely, the proposal should describe the approach to providing on-demand access to additional external computing resources for its targeted on-campus users and projects. One possible approach to implementing such a federated distributed computing solution is joining the Open Science Grid. Whatever opportunistic, federated, scalable, distributed computing platform is chosen, the proposal is expected to justify the choice by including a discussion on the shared platform's track record in the community, its current scientific computing production capability, and its scaling properties. Proposals are encouraged to include a letter of collaboration from the selected platform. Proposals are encouraged to describe how they will track and report on meeting the 20% extramural usage goal each year.
Planning Grants and CI-Research Alignment
For institutions, groups of institutions, and other entities, the task of assembling a complete CC* proposal within a 90-day deadline window can be a daunting challenge. Previous CC* solicitations offered, in the area supporting network connectivity for small institutions, the opportunity to develop a complete technical solution during the first year of a two-year award, building on an overall design for improved campus networking required in the corresponding proposal. That design” element no longer exists in area (2), and now requires coordination among groups of under-resourced institutions. In general, CC* PI teams require planning and effort related to their proposal prior to the 90-day solicitation window, for example, for compiling and understanding the science environments, applications and drivers motivating the proposed CI investments.
This area (Area 5) supports Planning Grants for PIs and teams requiring resources and time to coordinate and develop an approach to CC*-related activities. Proposals in this area will be reviewed and evaluated the same as other CC* proposals. Planning proposals should define a clear set of goals and a set of coordination and planning activities to meet those goals. Equipment costs are not allowed as part of a Planning Grant, and proposed costs are expected to include support for community coordination and planning activities. Planning proposals are welcome for areas (1) through (4) in CC* and are limited to $100,000 for 1 year.
This area also supports CI-Research Alignment (CRIA) activities. A CRIA award provides opportunities to foster new collaborations, including international partnerships, and address interdisciplinary topics. Innovative ideas for implementing novel networking strategies, collaborative technologies, training, broadening participation, and development of community standards for data and meta-data are especially encouraged. CRIA awards do not support primary research. A CRIA proposal is expected to develop a comprehensive CI strategy encompassing a campus, multiple campuses, or a state or regional research and education network entity. The CRIA activity may encompass planning for a future CC* proposal, but goes beyond a specific campus network design, assessment of campus computing needs, or compilation of demanding science drivers to address integrated CI planning and scoping across the relevant scientific communities on campus, across multiple campuses, state-wide, or regionally. Proposals in this area will be reviewed and evaluated like all other CC* proposals. CRIA proposals should define a clear set of goals and a set of coordination and planning activities to meet those goals. Equipment costs are not allowed in this area, and proposed costs are expected to request community coordination and planning activities. CRIA proposals are limited to $200,000 for up to 2 years.