What is DCSS?

A Data Computation and Storage Service (DCSS) provides a secured, online virtual machine (VM) for School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH) researchers to support the privacy, safety, and integrity of their research and data. DCSS compute requests involve two models for data use.

  • External Data, single use data, is data that will be used once and the data is not within DCSS at the time of request.
  • Named Data, multi-use data, is data that will be used multiple times by one or many users and is internal to DCSS at the time of request.

The DCSS, which runs on a HIPAA-certified storage computing installation, offers a library of Windows and Unix-based VMs that can be configured for individual study needs to meet memory requirements, CPUs, and disks.  These configurations include the most common analysis software including:

  • MS Office/OpenOffice
  • R
  • SAS
  • SPSS
  • Scipy Stack
  • And others

What are the requirements for using DCSS?

  • A UW Health account
    • Requires a UW Health Computer Systems Access request form
  • A separate CSAR Blank to have rights to a UW Health server. Here is a signedCSARSample
  • IRB documentation

If you have any questions about the DCSS requirements, please contact dcss@ictr.wisc.edu.

DCSS has Projects

When you make a DCSS request, you are requesting a configured DCSS instance (OS, RAM, and Disk), additional application software, and data to use for research. The request form binds all of these requirements as a project which also allows a separate user to submit the incoming data, collect the results, and map other study users to use the project’s Named Data. Projects map Named Data to single users or groups.

How do I get started if I anticipate moving Named Data into DCSS?

Complete the DCSS Named Data Storage Request form and instructions about how to move the data will be emailed to you. Additionally, you will be informed of the actual storage name chosen for the data. Then you can submit a DCSS Request and choose that data for the study.

How do I get started if I anticipate using External Data?

Simply complete the DCSS Request form to request a VM and directions about how to move the data will be emailed to you.

After all your data is moved to your VM…

You must complete the DCSS Data Transfer Done to have your DCSS instance and the data made ready for you. If you wait until the transfer is done to send this form, you will delay the process of getting your requested DCSS instance with the data.

What happens next?

Before the data is released to your DCSS instance, a brokering process determines your eligibility to use that data.

The DCSS instance and the Citrix desktop name are delivered to the project owner. As the project owner, you connect to the Citrix desktop using your UW Health account.

The Citrix desktop (DCSS Citrix Entrance) allows you to remotely access your new DCSS instance by the following methods: 

  • Remote Desktop to your Windows DCSS instance 
  • Putty to your Linux DCSS instance  

Get access to your results

Place what you want in a folder next to where your incoming data was placed and ask for your results: Request for DCSS Results.  You will receive an email with the information needed to collect your results. You can make such a request as many times as you need.

Project completes

Surrender the DCSS instance with the Done with DCSS Compute Resource

Proper archiving of the DCSS instance, input data, and results is done to allow reproducible computations for the retention requirement of 7 years.

More information?

Please send an e-mail to DCSS@ictr.wisc.edu. You will have the opportunity to schedule a meeting so that we can discuss your research to determine if you need a customized environment created within DCSS or provide suggestions about how to progress.

Is there a charge for accessing/using DCSS?

The costs associated with DCSS are the support of the UW Health server teams, costs to always have hardware under warranty, system expansions and staff to do personalized consulting to get studies up and running. This is a long term project getting full support of UW Health and SMPH. The exact funding model is not set yet.

Data Storage and Backup

DCSS serves as a targeted home for large data sets. It provides copies.

Frequently Used Forms

Form Purpose
DCSS Named Data Storage Request If you anticipate moving Named Data, data that may need to be accessed by multiple users or at various times, into the DCSS, use this form.
DCSS Request If you want to get a compute instance within the DCSS and set up a PROJECT with use of data rights. You can specify Named Data and External Data.
DCSS Data Transfer Done To inform the DCSS team that you are finished with transferring data into DCSS as those times vary.
Request for DCSS Results You have the results you want and you would like to receive them.
Done with DCSS Compute Resource You are done with this compute instance and you would like proper archiving of initial data, compute instance virtual image, and the results.


Additional Forms

 Form Purpose
DCSS Re-Request Form The compute instance did what you desired. Now you would like a fresh copy of the compute image with different data. This compute instance can use the same CSAR for server permissions.
DCSS Project Modification Form This forms lets you modify the “project”.  Initially, besides data being used, the request form, set provider of possible External Data needed, who may access computational results, and others allowed to access internal Named Data.
DCSS Named Data Update Form This form allows you to attach additional files and folders to a Named Data set already imported to DCSS (i.e. You either forgot things such as your IRB documents or you are putting together a dataset via multiple uploads).