FAQs

For questions specifically about STRIDES training, see our Training FAQS.

General

The NIH Science and Technology Research Infrastructure for Discovery, Experimentation, and Sustainability (STRIDES) Initiative establishes partnerships with commercial cloud service providers (CSPs) to reduce economic and technological barriers for accessing and computing on large biomedical data sets to accelerate biomedical advances. A central tenet of the STRIDES Initiative is that data made available through these partnerships will incorporate standards endorsed by the biomedical research community to make data Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable (FAIR).

Currently, NIH and NIH-funded researchers are eligible to participate in the STRIDES Initiative.

To date, the STRIDES program has negotiated pricing agreements with two CSPs—Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud Platform (GCP)—through their administrative partners. For specific details on the pricing agreements, please contact the respective CSP/partner.

Once you no longer have an active NIH award, the storage of your information must be funded through another source, or moved, unless you make other arrangements with NIH.

If your data includes protected health information then you need a BAA for your workloads. There are several options:

  • You can sign a new BAA with the billing/administrative partner (Four Points Technology and/or Carahsoft);
  • You can sign a new direct BAA with the STRIDES partner (AWS, GCP, and/or Azure) for the accounts that are moving to STRIDES; or
  • You can transfer an existing BAA to the billing and administrative partner (Four Points Technology and/or Carahsoft).

Using AWS with the STRIDES Initiative

Members can utilize the expansive AWS training offerings, to include subsidized instructor-led training and certification classes, self-paced on-line classes, research-specific webinars, Enterprise Support office hours, and AWS-led tech talks and deep-dive sessions with hands-on lab experience.

With AWS, researchers can quickly analyze massive data pipelines, store petabytes of data, advance research using transformative technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and quantum computing. AWS provides a robust portfolio of scalable and secure compute, storage, and database capabilities to accelerate time to science.

AWS also provides researchers with access to open datasets, funding, training, and specialty programs (well-architected reviews and migration support programs) to accelerate their pace of innovation.

AWS supports ground-breaking research in collaboration with leading higher education institutions, as well as national and international research agencies. These include the European Space Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Science Foundation, and NIH.

Reach out to Four Points to discuss your NIH fundung mechanism and the best available contract options for you to enroll with the STRIDES Initiative. Once an AWS account is created or transferred, review AWS account best practices and security best practices. After that, review the NIH repository for recorded meetings to listen to previous Tech Talk and Meet the TAM [Technical Account Manager] meetings. If you have any questions, reach out to your AWS account team.

Yes, existing AWS accounts can have ownership transferred to operate under the NIH STRIDES Initiative AWS contract. For instance, if the AWS account is owned by your institution, the account and its respective resources can have ownership transferred to the NIH STRIDES Initiative AWS contract. AWS accounts are managed by Four Points, the reseller for the NIH STRIDES Initiative AWS contract. Four Points managed AWS accounts are linked to a dedicated payer account within their AWS Organization. In some circumstances, AWS accounts cannot be transferred; resources within the source account will need to be migrated. Please reach out to the Four Points or AWS account team for questions on changing AWS account ownership or migrating resources between AWS accounts.

Utilize the AWS Trusted Advisor tool that is accessible via the AWS console. Trusted Advisor aligns AWS environments with best practices. Findings are flagged with corresponding recommendations to mitigate risks associated with not applying AWS best practices. These findings should be reviewed on a recurring schedule with action items assigned to specific owners with a target completion date. If there are further questions about using Trusted Advisor, please reach out to your AWS account team.

Scheduling an architecture review for the application is a necessary step for the AWS account team to provide recommendations and next steps for optimizing the AWS hosted application.

Gathering documents to facilitate a meeting with the AWS account team yields a more valuable conversation. Documents include architecture diagrams, process flows and/or presentation/written documents describing the application.

Review the Well-Architected Review tool, accessible via the AWS console. The tool has a list of questions associated with five pillars that compose the Well-Architected Framework. After reviewing the tool and identifying who could assist with answering the questions, reach out to your AWS account team to schedule a Well-Architected Review.

A Well-Architected Review will holistically review your application and provide actionable steps to achieve optimization according to AWS best practices.

Begin by reviewing findings and recommendations within the cost pillar of AWS Trusted Advisor. It is AWS best practice to incorporate a recurring review of AWS Trusted Advisor findings within your institute’s operational cadence meetings. If there are further questions, or if you want to achieve additional cost optimization, ask your AWS account team about a Cost Optimization Workshop, which dives deeper into services consumed.

The AWS account team can provide an Operational Readiness Review to dive into operational processes and provide recommendations about being prepared for operational events.

Use Enterprise Support to open support cases via the AWS console, CLI, or via API. Cases can be opened regarding anything from business impacting issues to general questions about how to use AWS services.

Yes, there is no limit to the number of AWS support cases that can be opened. Support cases can be submitted through various severity levels; open an AWS technical support case through the AWS console, pragmatically through CLI and API options. If you are wanting a quicker response time, even for general guidance cases, select the live options via chat or phone.

Enterprise Support offers many privileges, one of which is a TAM who is responsible for being a point of escalation if support cases are not receiving the proper attention. Reach out to the TAMs supporting the STRIDES Initiative.

AWS offers various services to facilitate the transition of an application from on-premise to AWS. There are two important aspects to consider when migrating to AWS: moving data and compute. AWS offers services to assist with moving data to AWS, database migration, and compute migration. If you have more unique requirements to migrate from on-premise to AWS, or have further questions about these services, please reach out to the AWS account team.

Enterprise Support offers many benefits, including Infrastructure Event Management (IEM). During the IEM, the TAM will guide you through an architecture review and arrange a series of planning meetings. An IEM takes 4–6 weeks of planning for the migration, launch, or event. Reach out to the TAMs supporting the NIH STRIDES Initiative for more information.

The NIH Center for IT and AWS Professional Services have partnered to build an NIH-wide accessible AWS environment that has achieved ATO. AWS best practices are built into the NIH-wide AWS environment, minimizing the amount of development needed to operate your application and research projects.

Applications should be built with the Well-Architected pillars in mind. If the application existed previously on-premise, two approaches can be taken:

1) Lift and shift, meaning the application can be built within AWS, as it operates on-premise. After the application operates within AWS, the recommendation is to identify optimization opportunities for the workload.

2) Rebuild the application within AWS so that it is optimized for the cloud. This approach is often referred to as refactoring. Some customers prefer to operate in a hybrid methodology, allowing access to some application components on-premise and others within AWS. Schedule a meeting with the AWS account team based on your desired outcome and approach.

Modernization using AWS managed services can improve resiliency and reduce total cost of ownership. Each modernization scenario is different so there may be pricing incentives depending on your use-case. For instance, there are pricing incentives for modernizing databases through the AWS Database Freedom program. The AWS account team can discuss what AWS services and features are needed to facilitate your modernization efforts.

AWS operates based on the Shared Responsibility Model. AWS is responsible for security of the cloud, meaning the infrastructure that runs all the services offered in the AWS cloud, and the customer is responsible for data in the cloud. There are best practices and security features that can be enabled, depending on the type of storage (i.e., block or object-based storage). AWS provides compliance documentation within AWS Artifact that is accessible via the AWS management console. Additionally, AWS provides documentation such as Best Practices for Securing Sensitive Data in AWS data stores for guiding customers on how to manage their portion of the Shared Responsibility Model.

The AWS Pricing Calculator assists customers with estimating the cost for AWS services and solutions. The pricing provided is the AWS cost without the discounts that can be applied from Four Points Technology and any additional applicable discounts. Please reach out to the AWS account team and Four Points Technology for specific details about pricing.

Review the Tech Talks and training schedule. If the training schedule does not accommodate your needs, review the NIH central repository to review recorded trainings and previous Meet the TAMs meetings.

Additionally, reach out to the TAMs to sign up for STRIDES AWS Office Hours to speak with a TAM directly.

Lastly, reach out to your AWS account team to schedule a meeting to discuss the service of interest. The AWS account team can provide additional training on services through immersion days, which include presentation(s) on the service or feature with a hands-on lab.

Yes. AWS provides training content and webinars that can get people started with using the platform for their research workloads. The STRIDES website hosts a regularly curated list of related resources and you can search for webinars of interest via the AWS Education: Research Seminars Hub.

More information is available on the STRIDES Initiative Training page. If you would like to discuss your specific training needs and make a request for a particular AWS Classroom Training or topic, please contact Joel Mills

After receiving your AWS account, you will have access to discounts through Four Points Technology, AWS Enterprise Support, and other benefits. Read through the FAQs and listen to recorded meetings and past training events to determine where to start. As always, if your question is not answered, please reach out to your AWS account team. Four Points provides onboarding documentation that aid your onboarding experience. Please reach out to Four Points for this information.

If the information above has not addressed all your questions, reach out to the AWS account team to schedule a post-onboarding meeting.

Using GCP with the STRIDES Initiative

Google Cloud offers researchers our depth of Life Sciences solutions and partnerships, our best in class security with our 9 layers of defense in depth, the best hybrid/multi-cloud solution with our support and commitment to open source, our AI/ML leadership in model development and operations, as well as our Google commitment to Innovation.

As part of STRIDES, researchers get access to Google Cloud training, professional services, and subject matter experts. Reach out to strides-gcp@google.com to learn more about how your group can take advantage of these and other offerings. Google has also created STRIDES specific playbooks to help researchers get started on their cloud journey.

Yes, you can still request a STRIDES billing ID to apply to an NIH-funded research project in GCP, while keeping your existing billing ID(s) for non-NIH funded work. Follow these steps to modify your existing project’s billing account, or reach out to strides-gcp@google.com for assistance.

Carahsoft sets up budgets and alerts for STRIDES based upon the customer’s prepaid allocation or funding caps. Additionally, any partner or user with the appropriate Google Cloud roles and permissions can create budgets and usage alerts in the GCP Console. Reach out to NIHStrides@Carahsoft.com for more information about prepaid allocations and funding caps. Contact strides-gcp@google.com to learn more about setting additional billing parameters in GCP.

The projects are separated out on the usage report, however, each reseller can invoice the customer based on customer request.

Once NIH grant or award funding runs out, researchers and investigators can always reapply for NIH funding. If new funding isn’t available, NIH offers repositories that data can be migrated to; NIH will cover the cost of data hosted in these repositories. Project teams can also continue to maintain the data themselves. This would require moving the project to a non-STRIDES billing account ID and paying full price for GCP services.

Reach out to the STRIDES Team to learn more about NIH data repos.

Yes. If you have the appropriate GCP billing roles and permissions, you can freely review GCP billing reports in the GCP console. Reach out to NIHStrides@Carahsoft.com or strides-gcp@google.com to learn more about creating billing reports in GCP.

Yes, the STRIDES Discounts are visible within the console on the pricing tab.

Yes. In conjunction with general Google FedRAMP compliance, NIH has received an Authority to Operate (ATO) for the GCP platforms.

Yes. All data is encrypted in transit and at rest by default.

Our Google Cloud Enterprise Privacy Commitments describe how we protect the privacy of Google Cloud Platform and Google Workspace customers and can be found here. Beyond the scope of what Google offers as a cloud service provider, customers are responsible for their own data in STRIDES.

Yes. Google provides over 150 public datasets covering COVID-19, Genomics, Healthcare, and Science & Research for researchers to access and use. Explore our public datasets and solutions here.

Yes, Google has developed multiple solutions for to assist researchers as well as products and API's. More information can be found here.

Google Cloud offers a number of transfer and migration services. Additionally, Google’s Professional Services support customers with guided assistance for cloud migrations, application development, security implementation, and infrastructure build-out. Reach out to strides-gcp@google.com for more information.

Google Cloud offers Basic, Standard, Enhanced and Premium support. Visit Google Cloud Support to review support options or reach out to strides-gcp@google.com for assistance.

Our Google STRIDES team offers bi-weekly Office Hours as well as monthly newsletters to keep researchers up to date. Our Office Hours sign up is found within our Welcome to STRIDES letter.

Yes. In addition to instructor led and on-demand courses offered through STRIDES, Google also offers hands-on codelabs, as well as a YouTube channel for continued learning.

Please reach out to Carahsoft at NIHStrides@Carahsoft.com.

Please reach out to Google at strides-gcp@google.com.

Using Azure with the STRIDES Initiative

While joining the STRIDES Initiatve has many advantages, choosing the right cloud provider is critical to getting the greatest and most sustainable research benefits from the cloud. Microsoft offers a world-class partnership, backed by state-of-the-art technology, and a team of experts ready to work with you to make discovery possible.

Some benefits of this partnership include:

  • Support from thousands of research computing experts – Access bioinformaticians, data scientists, and engineers to address the unique challenges of working with complex datasets and advanced cloud technology.
  • More choices with open-source software (OSS) – Operate on the technology you know and trust with the largest cloud platform contributor to OSS on GitHub—running Linux on more than 50% of VM cores.
  • Rich partner ecosystem – Explore and implement thousands of technical and consulting services or end-to-end solutions built by partners—including DNAnexus, Illumina (DRAGEN), and many more.
  • Deep research investment – Work with a partner who has invested $10.4 billion in research, supports more than 125 research teams, and has published over 22,000 academic research papers since 1991.
  • Collaborate across teams in real time – Seamlessly share and store templates, datasets, containers, and spreadsheets in a unified hub with Microsoft Teams and Azure Jupyter Notebooks.

Enrolling in the STRIDES Initiative with Microsoft enables access to industry-leading cloud environments, services, and tools at a discounted rate to accelerate your biomedical research.

In addition, Microsoft provides the following benefits to researchers:

  • Special STRIDES pricing – Enjoy special STRIDES-only pricing on the most up-to-date cloud technology—including a data egress waiver.
  • Cutting-edge technology – Drive discovery with the most advanced and secure computing technology, high-value research datasets, and AI analytics.
  • Research expertise – Access enterprise-level support from subject matter experts specialized in biomedical research workloads.
  • Custom training – Receive customized technical training empowering you to easily manage your research in the cloud.

Ready to accelerate your biomedical research? Become part of the STRIDES Initiative and unlock near-limitless cloud opportunities and support services at a discounted rate. Get in touch with the Microsoft STRIDES team to get started.

Check out the links below to learn more about accelerating your research with Microsoft and NIH STRIDES:

When it comes to computing technology, researchers need a cloud that just works. Microsoft Azure brings together the power, intelligence, flexibility, and security researchers need to run the most computationally intensive workloads with ease and peace of mind.

  • Powerful computing – Maximize the full range of CPU, GPU, FPGA, and fast interconnect capabilities with InfiniBand to reduce job completion times from days to minutes.
  • Seamless open-source integration – Deploy your preferred open-source software directly on Azure, including NAMD, Gromacs, Cromwell, PyTorch, TensorFlow, and RELION.
  • Advanced insights – Gain deeper insights into your data faster by building and training new AI models with automated machine learning and autoscaling cloud compute.
  • Flexible Infrastructure – Enhance your on-premises equipment with the only end-to-end hybrid infrastructure for the cloud—flexibly scaling to meet your workload demands.
  • Secure and compliant – With over 90 global compliance offerings and $1 billion invested in security each year, Azure provides peace of mind, so you can focus on research.

Joining the STRIDES Initiative with Microsoft grants you access to industry-leading cloud infrastructure, powerful analytics tools, and customized technical support—accelerating your biomedical research speed, capacity, access, and collaboration at a discounted rate.

  • Quickly and easily run complex workloads – Processing and analyzing data in the cloud greatly reduces the compute time and long wait queues associated with on-premises computing. Faster and more efficient data processing improves data reliability while shortening the time to publish.
  • Reduce costs – Enjoy the benefits of the most up-to-date, industry-leading cloud compute technology at a discounted rate—while avoiding the costs of keeping on-premises data centers up-to-date, secure, and compliant.
  • Easily access and manage research data – By migrating data to the cloud, researchers can access, process, and analyze rich datasets whenever and wherever they want—with near-limitless storage capacity. New to the cloud? Microsoft provides customized technical training for researchers and data owners to optimize use of cloud services and tools.
  • Collaborate seamlessly – Leveraging the cloud environment allows researchers to access and share biomedical data and insights across teams, departments, and organizations—driving innovation, breaking down silos, and expanding the research ecosystem.

Researchers across the world are using Microsoft Azure to take on bold, leading-edge research projects. In partnership with leading academic research institutions, Microsoft Azure is propelling research discovery in extraordinary ways.

Benefits:

  • Increased speed and efficiency of data insights with less human intervention
  • Enhanced collaboration across institutions to enhance patient care through large-scale research sharing
  • Increased data integration to support learning platform discovery
  • Protected sensitive patient data while ensuring HIPAA compliance with industry-leading security technology

To learn more about how researchers are using Microsoft Azure to supercharge discovery, read their story: UCLA Health

Join the Microsoft Research Community on LinkedIn to learn more about research on the cloud and how Microsoft Azure can help you unleash near-limitless data compute, storage, and analysis capabilities.