SBGrid brings together more than 240 like-minded laboratories all in the business of discovering what biological molecules look like and how they work. The Consortium includes X-ray crystallography, NMR and electron microscopy laboratories worldwide. Members share the costs of SBGrid's support services and gain access to 250 scientific applications and extensive computing resources, all maintained at the SBGrid Service Center located at Harvard Medical School.
With the support that comes from SBGrid, labs are able to focus their attention on science, not on maintaining software and scheduling compute time. SBGrid eliminates the need for a dedicated software technician in large structural biology groups and it enables smaller, less specialized groups to create sustainable structural biology research programs. In total, SBGrid's support model saves its members $2 million per year or more.
SBGrid Services and Resources
SBGrid's NIH-compliant Service Center supports SBGrid operations and provides members with access to the following services and resources:
- Software Maintenance: The SBGrid Center manages the support cycles of 250+ scientific applications, which includes:
- application evaluation, compilation, selection and licensing;
- deployment across the 240+ Consortium laboratories on over 2100 workstations;
- ongoing support for over 1700 end users;
- maintenance, upgrades and bug fixes for all applications; and
- rapid transition to new applications, versions, interim releases and supported operating systems
- Computing Access: Because discovering a crystal structure often requires access to extensive computing resources, SBGrid began a National Science Foundation sponsored Research Coordination Network in 2007 that provides a specialized computing portal that SBGrid members use to access the Open Science Grid.
- Training: To keep Consortium members informed about the latest advancements in structural biology computing, SBGrid holds monthly WebEx seminars featuring tutorials by contributing developers, hosts occasional software workshops and a semi-annual conference called the Advances in Structural Biology Computing Symposium.
SBGrid Developer Network
The SBGrid Consortium works closely with the software developers who design and develop the tools structural biologists need. Because these developers also live and work around the world, integrating their diverse software tools can be challenging. SBGrid helps by providing resources, tools and an extensive developer network of physical and virtual machines for building and testing applications and integration.
SBGrid Members continually consult with developers about their computing needs for future projects. Several developers participate in our advisory committee and SBGrid computing schools and visit us onsite.
Participants at our most recent advisory meeting, held in June 2011 and featuring several days of presentations and discussions, included the developers of HKL, Coot, Phenix, Solve/Resolve, CCP4, SHELX and Schrodinger, all key structural biology applications. Representatives from four US Synchrotrons also participated.
Fig. SBGrid Advisory Meeting, June, 2011, HMS. Developers of several key, structural biology applications (HKL, Coot, Phenix, Solve/Resolve, CCP4, SHELX, Schrödinger) participated. Representatives from four US Synchrotron beamlines were also present.
The effect of the SBGrid support model has been dramatic for its subscribing member laboratories. SBGrid support has eliminated the need for a dedicated software support technician in large structural biology research groups, while also helping enable smaller and less specialized groups to create sustainable structural biology research programs. Our conservative estimate of the aggregate savings realized by the project is at minimum at $2,000,000/year.