Since 2012, Nectar has established a national Research Cloud infrastructure to support the collaboration needs of Australian researchers. The Research Cloud has been supported through deployments of Nectar funded computing equipment at eight operating partners across the states of Australia; supported by co-investment from research universities in all the states of Australia.
The objectives of the Research Cloud have been to provide a national interoperable and accessible computational platform on which Australian researchers may collaborate on shared problems across institutional and national boundaries; attracting over 11,000 registered users (over 200 new registered users per month), with thousands of other researchers using services, tools and data deployed on the Research Cloud.
Researchers at all Australian universities have benefited from access to the Nectar Research Cloud since January 2012. The deployment of the Research Cloud infrastructure was completed with the deployment of the Western Australian and New South Wales nodes in December 2014.
In June 2017 the Pawsey Centre advised Nectar of their intention to withdraw the Western Australian node from the Research Cloud. This would include re-purposing of the Nectar funded equipment to support 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.
On Monday 4 September Nectar sent a communication (https://nectar.org.au/changes-access-nectar-research-cloud-western-australian-researchers) to all Research Cloud users notifying them of the withdrawal of the Pawsey node of the Research Cloud. The message noted that Nectar is considering the impact on continued access by Western Australian researchers to the cloud resources deployed in other Australian states, given the withdrawal of the capital infrastructure and operating co-investment at the Western Australian node.
The communication includes specific advice on options for Western Australian researchers to continue to receive support, including: the new Nimbus cloud service at the Pawsey Centre and options for access to resources at Nectar Research Cloud nodes in other states. Western Australian research institutions may also explore opportunities to continue to invest in access through other Research Cloud node operators.
It remains the objective of Nectar to provide infrastructure to support the national collaboration needs of Australian researchers and we continue to work with the Pawsey Centre to manage the transition to these new arrangements in Western Australia. Delivering on this collaboration mission continues to rely on the support of our operating partners across Australia and co-investment from Australian research institutions. The Research Cloud has continued to attract additional investment through the node operators and through direct investment in additional capacity by Australian research institutions.