Now that I’m on my cloud account and setting up virtual machines and data and software: I have run into some technical issues. I know the CloudBank team is not (currently) staffed up with Research Software Engineers to help me build out my cyber-infrastructure for my research; so I’m wondering: What other sorts of options and strategies do I have available???
-Rob, stuck in Stuck River WA
Well Rob, we’re glad you asked. Here are some thoughts on getting un-stuck.
Networking If you are at a college or university: The cloud provider (say AWS or Azure or Google or IBM) will often have a program manager responsible for that company’s relationship with your institution. If so: Try and connect with this person and ask for guidance on getting connected to the right technical person at that company. These are often called Solutions Architects of SAs. An SA can often help you directly; or they can bring in other experts. It is in their interest for you to be successful on their cloud; so be prepared to work through this relationship and you’ll be able to get some amazing help more often than not.
Support Plan Upgrade Cloud providers include a default level of support in your account/subscription. On AWS for example this is called Developer-level support. This means that you can ask questions and you will get replies back; but there can often be delays of a day or so: The correspondence may be slow. You can elect to alter this level of support and get faster, more energized help. On AWS the next level up is called Business-level support. This will cost $100 / month or 10% of your monthly spend, whichever is larger. The good news is: If you just need help on one issue you can temporarily up your level of support, get the help you need, and then reduce it back down again to the free tier. You are not obliged to remain at any particular support level.
Communities of Practice This may sound obvious but jump on that search engine and try and find someone who has already solved the problem you are stuck on. Often we find that there are solutions out there that are close to being helpful but just off the mark; but this can provide a clue about who you might connect with to deal with your issue. For example if your molecular dynamics software package is crashing your cloud Virtual Machines with no explanation: Chances are someone in that domain-specific user community will have great insight; and some clever searching will find them.
Training In addition to online static documentation pages there is a lot of live teaching of cloud skills available online (see for example YouTube). You can also take a look at the course offerings of Internet-2 and other organizations that are interested in teaching you the cloud.
As always you can try contacting CloudBank at firstname.lastname@example.org to see if the CloudBank team has any further insights; but often that will amount to the four ideas outlined above; so we recommend giving those a try first and see how it goes!