At our first meeting of 2020, Gary New, Manager of Operations for the Cheyenne Operations Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC), told us about the history of the Center, its current status, and plans for the near future. 

The center is located next to the Microsoft campus just outside Cheyenne, where the cold climate helps with controlling the heat generated by the supercomputer at the heart of the facility.  This is the only national lab devoted specifically to atmospheric science.  The operation is overseen by a consortium of some 114 universities.
The Center opened in 2011, three months ahead of schedule and $4 million under budget.  Its efficiency compares favorably with other modern data centers; it has a design PUE (a measure of efficiency where 1.0 is perfect) of 1.08 whereas some data centers have PUEs of around 2.0.  It has a flexible design to accommodate different system requirements. 
At the center, the first-generation supercomputer, called Yellowstone, installed in October, 2012, had a capacity of 1.5 quadrilliion computations per second.  During its life, it provided 2.49 billion CPU hours and completed 18.64 million jobs for some 2958 different users in global climate research.  During its life, it suffered “incidents” of a raccoon knocking out power, a raven doing the same, a few weather events, and one major medium voltage cabinet failure (the last requiring 56 hours to repair).  There was also a re-cable effort, required by interference between originally-installed cables, that was planned to take one month but was actually accomplished in 4.5 days. 
In January of 2017, after a four-year transition, Yellowstone was replaced by a second-generation supercomputer named Cheyenne – 1/3 the size with three times the computing capability (5.34 quadrillion computations per second) and the same power consumption as Yellowstone.  This is accompanied by 60 petabytes of data storage.  The efficiencies of operation and maintenance are enhanced by using a raised floor to provide easy utility access. 
The procurement process is underway to acquire a third-generation supercomputer.  The timeline for acquisition is constrained by the fact that all technologies need to be evaluated to determine their impact on the facility.  The expected cost will be on the order of $30 million to provide a system that will operate 24/7 for some five years.  The procurement process is complicated by the necessity of non-disclosure agreements with all suppliers. 
The computer is an open system, providing access to a large number of collaborators from around the globe, so security tries to balance ease of access with restriction to unauthorized access.  That balance has, so far, been achieved. 
Mr. New is not an IT professional, per se, but has a wide range of experience in facilities related to health care, information technology, and emergency fire/rescue work.