You are here

2018 User Survey: The results are in!

Thank you to the more than 260 respondents who took the time to complete our third annual WestGrid User Survey last November. The purpose was to gather feedback on user and stakeholder satisfaction and to get a better understanding of your current and future research computing needs. 

We’re happy to share a snapshot of this years results in our 2018 User Survey Infographic.

And we've summarized the main findings below:


WestGrid’s third annual survey to gather feedback on user and stakeholder satisfaction, assess user need, and track key performance indicators was sent to a mailing list of over 8,000 emails, which included all Compute Canada account holders at institutions in Western Canada. 

A total of 266 respondents took the survey over a three-week period ending November 23, 2018. 

Key Findings

  • The overall satisfaction with WestGrid was 86% (those who reported being somewhat, 36%, or very satisfied, 50%).
  • Open-ended responses included concerns with system downtime and instability. Other individual comments included:
    • The need for and importance of user support, especially dedicated advanced user support; and
    • Low visibility / awareness of WestGrid resources.
  • Positive comments included:
    • "It's been invaluable for my research to have access to the computing power of WestGrid and Compute Canada. Thank you to the team that keeps it running."
    • "The progress in research is much faster with WestGrid, we need you!"

Resources and Services

  • The following services and resources were rated as very important:
    • 74% - Compute cycles (CPUs, core years)
    • 65% - Online user support (help desk, email support, telephone)
    • 64% - Active Storage (for ongoing analysis and computation)
  • When asked to indicate the value of potential NEW services, the following were rated as very or somewhat valuable:
    • 89% - Testing environment (for scaling code, training new users)
    • 69% - Personnel support for developing research platforms
    • 66% - Support for researcher engagement with industry 
  • Over 40% of respondents said they would find the ability to pay for access to compute (40%), storage (37%) or support personnel (46%) somewhat or very valuable. 

User Support

  • 62% of respondents used WestGrid support in the past year, a 16% decrease from 2017. Of those who used WestGrid support:
    • 97% rated the ‘Overall quality of support’ as either Excellent (42%), Good (38%) or Adequate (16%).
    • 95% said the support was Excellent, Good or Adequate in terms of ‘Helpfulness of advice/recommendations’ and ‘Timeliness of response’.
  • 49% felt they DO have adequate support specific to their field of research, down 29% from 2017.
    • The 36% who felt they DO NOT, up 227% from 2017, were in the following fields:
      • Medical, Biological or Life Sciences 23%
      • Environmental or Earth Sciences 20%
      • Humanities or Social Sciences 17% 
  • 46% of respondents felt they DO have adequate local (on campus) ARC support (a continuing decline, down from 56% in 2016),
    • 31% said they DO NOT have adequate local support, a 41% increase since 2016. 
  • Of respondents who had used support in the last year, 42% indicated they had received extraordinary support.
    • Staff from the University of Victoria, the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary had the most mentions of extraordinary support. 

Next Steps

Thank you again to all who contributed to sharing this valued feedback. We will announce more initiatives in the near future to better help our users moving forward based on your feedback.

Community Town Hall

Please join us for our next Town Hall, Friday March 1, 2019, for a special session inspired by the some of the feedback from this year’s survey. The session will focus on strategies to help users deal with large scale systems and best practices to help mitigate system instability. CLICK HERE to RSVP and for more details. 

And as always please email us anytime at with any other concerns, questions or suggestions on how we help better support your advanced research computing needs.