The National Cancer Institute (NCI) funded the beginning development of FireCloud and two other genetic analysis cloud platforms. NCI started a pilot program that offered free credits ranging from $300, $1000, and $10,000 to give researchers a risk-free trial to compute on these platforms.

The NCI’s Cloud credit pilot was highly popular with around 164 researchers issued FireCloud credit and has been a great vehicle for getting users into the system. As the pilot comes to an end on September 27th, we are trying to make it easy for you to continue using the system and save your data. We have included instructions and individual contacts who can help you through the transition.


What happens on September 27th?

The files in your workspace’s Google bucket will be unavailable for any NCI FireCloud Billing project issued (no matter the Tier). This means that if you go into an existing workspace’s Google bucket and click on a file, a message like this will appear: “The account for bucket "fc-6d9c85dd-4a4f-463f-b3fc-7cf0438087f2" has been disabled.”

You will not be able to create new workspaces or launch any new analyses unless you take action as described below.

Note: The workspaces you created will remain available, but the files you moved or generated through analysis in the Google buckets will be inaccessible. This is because the credits covered the cost of storage, compute, and egress in the Google Cloud Platform and now this coverage is ending.

Next steps: There are a few options depending on what you want to do after the pilot.

To continue using the NCI FireCloud Billing project and keep your files, you will need to either

  1. Take over payment of the current NCI FireCloud billing project.
  2. Get access to a new FireCloud Billing Project/Google Billing Account.

  1. Take over the payment of the NCI FireCloud billing project:

    • You can issue a purchase order to Smartronix, the reseller who has been issuing the credits. Contact Eric Jeresa, @ ejerasa@smartronix.com or Melinda Armsworthy at +1-301-373-6000 to get this set up. They accept purchase orders paid in US Dollars from any country. Allow some lead time for this, as each institution’s procurement department will vary in speed.
    • You can sign up directly with Google with a credit card. After the Google Billing account exists, you can switch payment of this account.
    • Instructions: a. Go to this Google console site and click “Select a project.” Choose the NCI billing project that starts with “nci-name…”. b. Click the hamburger menu on the top left (three horizontal lines) and choose Billing. Click “Go to linked billing account.” c. Click the three dots and choose “Change billing account.” The new Google Billing Account linked with this Gmail account should display.
  2. Get a new FireCloud Billing project:
    • Onix is another reseller who can help establish purchase orders (only available to US and Canadian users). Contact Doug Sainato @ doug@onixnet.com to get set up. Dana Farber Cancer Institute and University of California at San Francisco both have a relationship established with Onix, so if you are from that organization, contact Doug. Once they have set you up, you will also be able to switch the billing account of your NCI FireCloud billing projects. Allow some lead time for this, as each institution’s procurement department will vary in speed.
    • Instructions: a. Go to this Google console site and click “Select a project.” Choose the NCI billing project that starts with “nci-name…”. b. Click the hamburger menu on the top left (three horizontal lines) and choose Billing. Click “Go to linked billing account.” c. Click the three dots and choose “Change billing account.” The new Google Billing Account linked with this Gmail account should display.
    • Use a friend’s existing FireCloud billing project by having them follow these steps.

You can copy your files out of the Google buckets before the 27th to a local cluster, or other cloud vendor storage using gsutil.

Whichever route you end up taking, remember you can still take advantage of other free credit programs.

Onix offers three grant programs:

  1. Onix partner credit URL (https://goo.gl/BZ1TCG) - allows you to add $500 credits in addition to Google provided credits
  2. GCP Education Grants (https://cloud.google.com/edu/) - these are designed for use in the classroom (i.e. bioinformatics, computer sciences). Onix will help obtain these credits in conjunction with a training seminar including hands on Codelabs
  3. NIH Commons Cloud Credits Model (https://commonfund.nih.gov/bd2k/cloudcredits) - NIH has allocated grant funding for biomedical research in the cloud. Organizations may submit one or more applications between $3,500 to $50k at the application portal: https://www.commons-credit-portal.org. Onix is a confirmant provider for GCP and can help with workload estimation Contact Doug Sainato @ doug@onixnet.com with any questions about these programs.

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