Some examples of areas in which project accounts can facilitate collaborative computing include:
Collaborative Production Data Management
Production Data refers to larger-scale datasets (many TBs now, PBs in the future), as opposed to, e.g., an individual’s own personal analysis files. The data is typically managed by multiple collaborators, is kept on disk for long periods, and is produced either by running jobs locally or transferring data from remote locations. A problem that often arises is that the files are owned by the collaborator who did the work and if that collaborator changes roles the default unix file permissions usually are such that the files cannot be managed (deleted) by other members of the collaboration and system administrators must be contacted. While the problem can be addressed with the appropriate use of unix groups and file permissions in practice this tends to be problematic and a more seamless solution would be of great utility.
Collaborative Software Management
The issue with managing software is similar to that of managing data – different collaborators often need to work with the same files in a particular software installation and unix groups and file permissions tend to be problematic for them. The main difference between collaborative data and software management is that software is typically managed on a short-tem basis (hours/days) whereas production data is managed on a long-term basis (months/years).
Collaborative Job Management
Production level jobs are often run by a small team of collaborators. Project accounts would enable members of the team to manipulate jobs submitted by other team members as necessary.
Not only do project accounts enable collaborative work but they also allow for precise role management through membership control.