OwnTime and the Nectar Research Cloud
eResearch Collaboration Tools and Resources) is an Australian Government
project funded to build new infrastructure specifically for the needs
of Australian researchers. The Nectar Cloud provides supported computing
infrastructure, giving researchers access to computing resources
without the need to purchase or host their own hardware.
The Nectar Research Cloud is a national federation consisting of
nodes based at Intersect (NSW), QCIF (QLD), University of Melbourne
(VIC), Monash University (VIC), TPAC (TAS) and NCI (ACT).
The underlying technology powering the Nectar Research Cloud is Openstack, http://openstack.org, open source software for creating public and private clouds.
Access to the Nectar Research Cloud is through the Nectar dashboard, https://dashboard.rc.nectar.org.au. Login to the dashboard is available to all Australian researchers using AAF (Australian Access Federation) credentials.
Each node is logically divided into two components, the Nectar portion which provides services to merit based national projects and a separate portion managed by the node. For Intersect this latter portion is called OwnTime. OwnTime provides all the standard Nectar services plus a range of additional services including additional virtual machine instance flavours, customised images (including Microsoft Windows), management applications including an institutional dashboard showing utilisation and charges across all projects in that institution.
Each node advertises one or more availability zones. These provide independent geographic locations for instances and storage. You might spread your instances across different availability zones to improve redundancy, or to put your data and compute close to the end users. For the Intersect node we have an availability zone named “intersect”.
An instance is a virtual computer running in a remote location. It consists of the hardware configuration (number of CPUs, memory and hard disk), the operating system, network and storage. A large range of operating systems are available, plus you can build your own with any pre-installed configuration you wish. Different classes of storage are available including block, object and ephemeral storage types.
Each instance gets a public IP address allowing access from anywhere. Security groups allow you to set up access controls around your instances, like a firewall, and controlling access to various services and locations.
There are three common types of storage:
- Block storage – provides persistent local disks that can be attached to an instance. A volume can be dynamically detached and attached to a different instance and does not get deleted when you delete an instance.
- Object storage – uses a
with no central point of control, providing greater scalability,
redundancy, and permanence for your data. Access is through an API or REST interface.
- Temporary or ephemeral storage – lasts for the life of your instance and provides fast local storage.
Last updated: 25 May 2019