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Want to know more about the Nectar Directorate, Nectar Cloud, and Nectar Labs? How they work, who can use them, how to join, or who to contact for help? See the below Frequently Asked Questions for more information.


What is Nectar?

The National eResearch Collaboration Tools and Resources project (Nectar) provides an online infrastructure that supports researchers to connect with colleagues in Australia and around the world, allowing them to collaborate and share ideas and research outcomes, which will ultimately contribute to our collective knowledge and make a significant impact on our society.

What are Nectar Virtual Labs?

Nectar Virtual Labs are rich domain-oriented online environments that draw together research data, models, analysis tools and workflows to support collaborative research across institutional and discipline boundaries. They are built and led by the Australian research sector and are used nationally and internationally by the research community.

What is the Nectar Cloud?

Nectar Cloud provides computing infrastructure, software and services that allow Australia’s research community to store, access, and run data, remotely, rapidly and autonomously. Nectar Cloud’s self-service structure allows users to access their own data at any time and collaborate with others from their desktop in a fast and efficient way.

What is NCRIS?

The National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) is the Australian Commonwealth Government program under which major research infrastructure projects are funded.  NeCTAR, RDSI / RDS, AAF and ANDS are all NCRIS-funded projects.

Introduction to cloud

What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing is a metaphor for doing computing tasks on a computer infrastructure run by someone else “on the internet”. (The origins of the term are uncertain, and there is no single precise definition.) The difference between cloud computing and the classic IT service model is that the infrastructure you use is typically owned and run by service providers that are external to your organization.

What is a Virtual Machine?

Virtual machines (VM’s) allow a physical computer to be shared among a number of users, with each user appearing to have exclusive access to the machine. Virtual machines are typically implemented using software known as a “hypervisor” which mediates each virtual computer’s access to the physical computer hardware, and stops the VMs from interfering with each other.

What is Nectar cloud computing?

The Nectar Cloud is a federation of cloud computing facilities located in each of the Australian State capital cities, and Canberra.  The infrastructure is implemented and  managed using the OpenStack cloud computing framework.

What is OpenStack?

“OpenStack is a set of software tools for building and managing cloud computing platforms for public and private clouds. Backed by some of the biggest companies in software development and hosting, as well as thousands of individual community members, many think that OpenStack is the future of cloud computing. OpenStack is managed by the OpenStack Foundation, a non-profit which oversees both development and community-building around the project” – source.

Is cloud computing like HPC?

Not really. Typical cloud computing systems are built using standard computing hardware that is optimized for economical performance rather than for speed. By contrast, High Performance Computing (HPC) systems tend to provide high-end processors, providing some combination of large numbers of cores, lots of memory, high-performance inter-processor communication and high performance disk I/O.

How can I ensure my work is secure in the Nectar Cloud?

The research cloud allows you to set a Security Group for each virtual machine, which allows you to specify restrictions on access to the VM. You can talk to our support team or your local IT support group to discuss how to secure your cloud resources.

Who can use Nectar Cloud resources?

Nectar Cloud is available to Australian academic researchers, government and industry customers, subject to merit assessment.

How do I get involved in Nectar?

Is there an opportunity for future Nectar engagement?

Nectar funded projects under the Super Science program occurred in 2 staged calls for proposals.  While these stages have completed, many of the outcomes continue to be supported through NCRIS funding, including 12 national Virtual Laboratories and the Nectar Research Cloud.  The research communities using the Virtual Laboratories continue to grow and many have policies of open access to research.  The Research Cloud continues to provide services to the research sector and facilitates access, collaboration, hosting and computing, development, data and tools, and is a platform available for all research software infrastructure.

Can I engage with existing programs?

Yes! You are welcome to investigate the Virtual Labs, try them out, and get involved in their communities.  Read more about how the Nectar cloud is being used, look out for Nectar news and events, and participate in our community forums on the Nectar website.

Can I create a Virtual Lab for my own community or project?

The research communities using the Virtual Labs continue to grow and some have planned to engage new disciplines, so we recommend investigating the existing Virtual Labs and case studies first.  Some of the Virtual Labs are designed to allow groups to create their own Virtual Labs on the same software platform (eg. GVL).  Some of the Virtual Lab’s software platforms have been reused to create new Virtual Labs (eg. VIHRL, CVL virtual desktops in the cloud).  Also, the Research Cloud is an infrastructure platform that can be used to develop and operate your software infrastructure ecosystem, in a space that allows for wider access and collaboration.  We recommend reading the case studies and leveraging/partnering with existing software efforts where possible.

Do I need to be funded by Nectar to be a part of it?

No. You do not need to be funded by Nectar to get involved in the community. Please see the question above for more information on how to get involved.

How do I acknowledge Nectar in my project or research?

For general acknowledgement of support from the Nectar program we recommend:

This research/project was supported by NeCTAR. NeCTAR is supported by the Australian Government through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy.

For use of the Nectar Research Cloud we recommend the following acknowledgement:

This research was supported by use of the NeCTAR Research Cloud, a collaborative Australian research platform supported by the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy.

For use of the Nectar Research Cloud with arrangement or support from specific cloud Nodes, we recommend explicitly acknowledging their support:

This research was supported by use of the NeCTAR Research Cloud and by <Node Operator name here>.  The NeCTAR Research Cloud is a collaborative Australian research platform supported by the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy.