Access to the Nectar Research Cloud for Western Australian Researchers

Access to the Nectar Research Cloud for Western Australian Researchers
November 24, 2017 Karen Mecoles
Clouds

2017-11-24

The Nectar Research Cloud is a federation of Nodes distributed around the country, which host the cloud compute and storage infrastructure. The Research Cloud has been supported through deployments of Nectar-funded infrastructure at the Nodes, and supported by co-investment from research universities in all the states of Australia.

In July 2017, the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre withdrew the Western Australian Node from the Nectar federation, instead offering a new national cloud infrastructure service called Nimbus that is integrated with the Pawsey HPC and storage infrastructure. Nectar and the remaining 7 Nodes (eRSA, Intersect, Monash University, the NCI, QCIF, TPAC and the University of Melbourne) are continuing to operate the Nectar Research Cloud. There is strong support for the continuing operation of an Australian research cloud in the recent national research infrastructure roadmap.

Nectar is pleased to confirm that we will continue to support allocation of Research Cloud resources to Western Australian researchers through our national allocation processes, following the withdrawal of the Western Australian node. This commitment has been confirmed following further consultation with, and support from, the operators of the remaining Research Cloud nodes in other Australian states.

The Research Cloud and services running on the Research Cloud will continue to be accessible to all Australian researchers, including Western Australian researchers.

However there are implications to the absence of a WA-based resource provider and associated co-investment from WA research institutions, and the withdrawal of Nectar-funded capital infrastructure from the Nectar cloud and subsequent reduction in capacity.

Following the withdrawal of the Western Australian node, local Research Cloud resources will no longer be available in WA to support locally prioritised resource allocation (as provided in other Australian states).

Research Cloud Allocations for WA Researchers

Nectar can now confirm continued support for allocation of resources to WA researchers through our national allocation processes:

  • Projects that are eligible for a national allocation (see below) will be approved by the Nectar allocations committee, based on consultation with nodes to ensure that sufficient capacity is available.
  • Project trials will continue to be available for WA researchers.

As previously advised, WA researchers will also continue to be supported in the following ways:

  • If the project is a collaboration with researchers from institutions outside of WA, one of those researchers can submit a Nectar project resource allocation request for the collaboration, which may simplify allocation approval.
  • For projects that are not eligible for a national allocation, WA institutions or research groups may seek to negotiate access to resources from particular Research Cloud nodes, or users may seek access on a fee-for-service basis. Nectar can provide guidance on options for particular requirements.
  • Some Nectar nodes may offer support for WA participants in strategic research collaborations of interest to the node, e.g. the TPAC node has offered to provide support for marine science researchers in WA.

Other options for WA researchers include:

  • Apply for resources at their local institution.
  • Apply for a merit based allocation at one of Australia’s national high-performance computing centres (Pawsey or the NCI), including the Nimbus cloud at Pawsey.
  • Using a commercial cloud provider (the costs would need to be covered by the researcher).

Projects that require large-scale resources (particularly cloud storage) will be challenging to support with the reduced capacity due to the withdrawal of the WA node. Such resource requests may instead be able to be supported by Pawsey’s Nimbus cloud.

Further information

Nectar cloud resources are allocated such that 40% of the Nectar-funded resources at a Node are available through a national allocation scheme, and 60% are allocated by Nodes based on local priorities. Project trial allocations are automatically available to new users through the national allocation share. Projects are eligible for a national allocation if they are supported by a national competitive research grant, or an NCRIS capability (including projects funded by ANDS, Nectar and RDS).

WA researchers who are not eligible for a national allocation cannot access a local node prioritised allocation since they now have no local node, due to the withdrawal of the WA Node from the Nectar federation. In that case, researchers or their institution or research group would need to have an agreement with a particular Node to use that Node’s locally prioritised share, or else make some other arrangements to use resources outside of the Nectar cloud.

Pawsey are providing a new national cloud infrastructure service called Nimbus that is integrated with the Pawsey HPC and storage infrastructure. The new cloud component of the national Pawsey service will be independent of the Nectar Research Cloud, but will use the same underlying cloud software (OpenStack), and will align with the recommendations of the infrastructure roadmap for an integrated data-intensive infrastructure system. Nimbus will be available to all Australian researchers using standard merit schemes.

Researchers who wish to learn more about Nimbus should visit

https://www.pawsey.org.au/our-services/data/cloud-services/

Questions regarding the NeCTAR Research Cloud should be addressed to the eHelp support portal https://support.ehelp.edu.au/support/home

or email support@ehelp.edu.au