MSI Users Bulletin – December 2016

The Users Bulletin provides a summary of new policies, procedures, and events of interest to MSI users. It is published quarterly.

To request technical assistance with your MSI account, please contact

1. MSI Primary File System: On November 9, 2016, Director of Research Computing Claudia Neuhauser sent an email to MSI users concerning issues with MSI systems. The information below repeats some of that information, plus provides some updates:

Starting in late August, we experienced an unusually high number of outages and you felt the impact. We immediately started to work with the vendor to figure why the system was behaving differently. After extensive testing, our storage vendor was able to replicate in their labs the conditions that led to our outages. A bug in the file system software is triggered when the following conditions occur: a certain type of hardware failure occurs, new storage shelves are being integrated into the current system, and the file system is under a heavy load. These conditions are not unusual at MSI, because we are frequently adding new storage shelves to keep up with demand, we expect parts to fail in a system as large as ours, and our systems are at least at 90% load all of the time. 

Our storage vendor recognizes the criticality of this issue and has made creating a patch for this bug a top priority. On December's maintenance day, we fully migrated the one volume which is needed across all of MSI to a different bladeset. That migration allows us to now work with the vendor on more debugging. There no significant risk of an MSI-site outage at this time. The vendor is continuing to test and is developing a patch.

We continue to address system availability by addressing other issues as well. For example, contractors will soon begin work to upgrade the cooling zones in Walter Library, so that we are much less susceptible to general building outages. We’re also actively working on new types of systems that offer a higher level of availability by leveraging some of the features of a cloud-based infrastructure. We’ll provide more details on these developments in the weeks and months to come. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact me ( if you have any questions or comments about what we are doing to support your research requirements.

2. Account Renewal Reminders:

a. The MSI 2016 allocation renewal period ended on December 9, 2016. MSI user accounts must be renewed if you wish to continue using MSI during 2017. PIs and Group Administrators who still wish to renew but who have not submitted a renewal request should contact as soon as possible. Non-renewed accounts will be locked in early 2017.

b. Accounts for Non-UMN MSI Users: MSI is transitioning from using sponsored accounts for non-UMN affiliated users to a “Person of Interest (POI)” designation. This change will create a greater level of security for accounts.

MSI is no longer accepting sponsored accounts as valid UMN Internet IDs for new users. As of January 1, 2017, sponsored accounts will no longer be allowed to log in to MSI resources. PI groups who have users with sponsored accounts must convert the accounts to POI. PI groups will need to get POI status for any external user they wish to add to their group. See the FAQ for more information.

The MSI Tech Support staff ( will assist non-University affiliated PIs with creating POIs. University-affiliated PIs are authorized to set up POIs with the University.

3. Printing at MSI: MSI has removed the printers from the Scientific Development and Visualization Laboratory in Walter Library. We will no longer provide printing capability for MSI users. There are multiple places available on campus where you can print, including:


Printing Services Digital Copy Centers

4. Spring Tutorials: MSI will resume tutorials at the start of the spring semester. They will be posted on the Events page of the MSI website when the schedule is finalized. 

5. 2017 MSI Research Exhibition: Save the Date! MSI will host the annual Research Exhibition on April 25, 2017, in Walter Library. The event includes a judged poster session with prizes awarded to the finalists. We will post information on our website and send out a Call for Posters in January 2017.

6. Jobs Available at MSI:

Student Customer Service

User Engagement Developer

7. Useful Webpages: Looking for help with using MSI? One of these pages may have the information you need:

a. Services available at MSI

b. Getting Started (includes Quickstart Guides)

c. MSI Systems

d. Help and Documentation

e. Staff Listing and Areas of Expertise

f. Upcoming Events and Tutorials

g. Proposal Support