Notice of Information: Leveraging STRIDES for Cloud Computing Activities in Common Fund Awards

Notice Number: NOT-RM-20-009

Key Dates
Release Date: March 19, 2020

Related Announcements
None

Issued by
Office of Strategic Coordination (Common Fund)

Purpose

The NIH Science and Technology Research Infrastructure for Discovery, Experimentation, and Sustainability (STRIDES) initiative has established partnerships with commercial cloud service providers (CSPs) Google and Amazon Web Services (AWS) to provide favorable pricing for cloud-based costs and to bring CSP engineering expertise to health research challenges. The NIH Common Fund, managed by the Office of Strategic Coordination, is using the STRIDES partnerships to establish a new model for payment of commercial CSP costs. This is intended to enable computing in a cloud environment, provide favorable pricing for cloud data storage and use of Common Fund data sets, and facilitate optimal storage and organization for proper data management, versioning, upkeep, harmonization, and stewardship.

Beginning April 1, 2020, applicants who anticipate requiring >$10,000 direct costs in commercial cloud services from either Google or AWS in any one year of the anticipated award are expected to request in-kind support via the Common Fund STRIDES partnerships rather than requesting direct cost support for these services. In-kind support refers to resources, goods, and services provided, rather than monetary support. The expectation to use STRIDES to support cloud computing activities only applies to competing Common Fund applications (new or renewal applications, also known as Type 1 and Type 2 applications) from domestic institutions.

To request in-kind support for cloud services, applicants for new or reissued Common Fund Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) must outline the anticipated costs of commercial cloud services in the Budget Justification section, including, but not limited to, data storage, analysis, data movement/egress (see below), professional services, training, and related activities. The Research and Related Budget Section F. Other Direct Costs should include a line item for Cloud Computing that shows $0 requested, with reference to this Notice. The request for in-kind support via STRIDES will be considered during the peer review process along with other budgetary requests. To foster a cloud-centric model that encourages analysis in the cloud, data egress fees (i.e. charges for outgoing traffic from cloud environments) should be minimized. Requests to support egress fees incurred by large-scale data download functionalities should have strong justification.

If the application is to be funded, NIH will use the cost estimates provided in the Budget Justification section to develop an award term that will provide access to in-kind payment of cloud services. Payment will not be made directly to the applicant institution, and the in-kind value of cloud services will not count toward the direct cost limit for the award. Upon award, program, grants management, and other NIH staff will work with Principal Investigators and their institutions to establish the accounts for in-kind payment of costs.

At this time, the Common Fund is not using STRIDES to support cloud computing costs for awards in the High-Risk, High-Reward program (Pioneer, New Innovator, Transformative Research, and Early Independence Awards). Applicants for these awards should continue to include cloud computing costs as a direct cost as needed. Additionally, applicants from foreign institutions should continue to include cloud computing costs as a direct cost as needed.

Please note, the expectations outlined above apply ONLY to awards supported by the NIH Common Fund. Continued support is contingent upon future year appropriations.

Inquiries

Please direct all inquiries to:

Stephanie Courchesne-Schlink, Ph.D.
Office of Strategic Coordination (OSC)
Office of the Director (OD)
Telephone: 301-451-6387
Email: stephanie.courchesne@nih.gov