QRISguide

QRISguide


The definitive guide to QRIScloud.

View the PDF version of QRISguide


 

QRISguide: Contents

1. About QRIScloud
1.1 Why use QRIScloud?        
1.2 QRIScloud’s Value to Researchers and their Institutions        
1.3 QRIScloud Governance and Management
1.4 QRIScloud Features
1.5 About QRIScloud Related Organisations       

3. QRIScloud Data Storage, Management and Access Services  
3.1 QRISdata Service Catalogue
3.2 Applying for Storage Services       
3.3 Using Storage Services
3.4 QRISdata Security and Resilience
3.5 Terms and Conditions      

4. Accounts                                                                                                                                                                                                 
4.1 QRIScloud Accounts        
4.2 Obtaining a QRIScloud Account        
4.3 Service Access Credential       
4.4 User Institutional Account        
4.5 Member Account        
4.6 QRIScloud Policies and Terms of Use       

5. Support Services                                                                                                                                                                        
5.1 Self-help       
5.2 Help Desk        
5.3 Notifications       
5.4 News and Announcements  
5.5 Training and Skills Development        

6. Professional Services      
6.1 Engagement Services        
6.2 Engineering Services        
6.3 Managed Services        
6.4 Accessing Services

7. Research Sharing and Collaboration                                                                                                                             
7.1 Sensitive Data
7.2 Research Communities       
7.3 Data Collections       

Appendices                                                                                                                                                                                                           
A.   Infrastructure and Technical Specifications
B.     QRIScloud Help Desk Service Levels                                                                                                                          
C.   Service Level Agreement for Hosted Services  


  

  1.         About QRIScloud

QRIScloud (Queensland Research and Innovation Services cloud) provides a simple, effective and economical way for researchers to access large-scale cloud computing, data storage and data collections to facilitate research and collaboration.

QRIScloud is a service provided by QCIF Limited and its member universities.  More information about QCIF and QRIScloud can be found below.

 1.1    Why Use QRIScloud? 

QRIScloud enables researchers and institutions to focus on their research by providing easy access to:

  • virtual machines and cloud storage, replacing the need to purchase their own computing equipment
  • readily available specialised compute resources, such as a large memory node.
  • resilient high capacity data storage resources
  • valuable collections of data from past research, research institutions, government and industry
  • applications, tools and services designed to meet the needs of researchers and research communities
  • assistance to enable effective and productive use of QRIScloud. 

 1.2    QRIScloud’s Value to Researchers and their Institutions

With QRIScloud, compute power is readily available and even large amounts of data can be stored in a secure, easily accessible location.

Use of QRIScloud services is cost effective for researchers and research institutions because much of its infrastructure and operating costs have been funded by the Commonwealth and State governments, universities and other research partners in Queensland.

With QRIScloud, research institutions can: 

  • arrange for their research data to be securely stored in QRIScloud
  • take advantage of QRIScloud’s economical costs of computing and data storage
  • share data and applications across the institution and with external collaborators
  • participate in and collaborate across national and international research communities
  • obtain comprehensive information about their researchers’ use of QRIScloud.

With QRIScloud, researchers can:

  • securely store data sets
  • manage their data sets and control who can access them
  • acquire and operate virtual machine (VM) instances
  • configure VMs with options for operating systems, central processing units (CPUs), and memory
  • launch on-demand computation
  • create and run websites to expose their data through Web portals and APIs
  • link VM instances to large data sets
  • share data sets with colleagues and across research communities
  • collaborate with researchers worldwide 
  • access and use research community services such as Virtual Laboratories
  • access a wide range of eResearch services, tools and applications
  • access institutional high performance computing (HPC) facilities
  • access specialised cloud services, such as Euramoo, a cluster-in-the-cloud service
  • evolve their skills with eResearch technologies.

With QRIScloud, research communities can: 

  • create and operate Web portals providing researchers in their community access to community information, applications, tools, services and data collections
  • provide researchers with secure access to data collections valuable to the community, and space for data created and processed during research project
  • share data and computing, aiding collaboration amongst the community
  • interact within the community and with their national and international collaborators.

QRIScloud’s catalogue of services is available at https://www.qriscloud.org.au/services

 1.3    QRIScloud Governance and Management

QRIScloud is governed and managed by QCIF (the Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation) and its member universities. QRIScloud services are provided through QCIF in conjunction with QCIF's member universities and partners. 

The funding to establish QRIScloud was provided by the Commonwealth Department of Education and Training under its NCRIS and EIF programmes, by the Queensland Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation (DSITI) under its Co-Investment Fund and by QCIF member universities and partners. 

NCRIS and EIF funds for QRIScloud were secured through the following federally-funded projects:

  • National eResearch Collaboration Tools and Resources (NeCTAR)
  • Research Data Storage Infrastructure (RDSI) (This project was successfully completed in 2015 and transitioned to RDS below.)
  • Research Data Services (RDS).

The lead agent for NeCTAR is the University of Melbourne, and the lead agent for RDSI and RDS is The University of Queensland. 

 1.4    QRIScloud Features

Scale
QRIScloud provides access to tens of thousands of compute cores and tens of petabytes of disk and tape storage. 

State-of-the-art infrastructure
QRIScloud’s high capacity, leading-edge infrastructure consists of servers and storage hosted in secure, commercial-grade data centres. These data centres are connected with members through AARNet’s network and to other organisations via the Internet. QRIScloud is connected to other nodes in the Australian Research Cloud (see section 1.5 about these members, partners and nodes) via a dedicated, diverse 10 Gbps connection for data transport.

Security
QRIScloud is protected through a range of professional security measures to ensure that users’ computation and data are secure. Data is replicated to ensure resilience and high availability. See section 3.4 on ‘QRISdata Security and Resilience’ for more information. 

Expert support
QRIScloud’s Help Desk provides easy access to responsive expert advice and assistance to ensure any operational issues experienced are handled quickly and professionally. Our team of friendly and helpful eResearch Analysts are available to answer any questions users may have about QRIScloud and its services to support research needs.  

Additionally, QRIScloud offers self-help resources, training and member support. See section 5 for further information.

 1.5    About QRIScloud Related Organisations

QCIF
The Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation (QCIF) Limited is a consortium of six Queensland universities structured as a not-for-profit company founded in 2000 (as QPSF — the Queensland Parallel SuperComputing Foundation and renamed in 2006). QCIF’s members are: 

  • CQUniversity
  • Griffith University
  • James Cook University
  • Queensland University of Technology
  • The University of Queensland
  • University of Southern Queensland
  • University of the Sunshine Coast (associate member).

QCIF operates QRIScloud as the Queensland nodes of both the Research Data Storage Infrastructure (since transitioned to Research Data Services) project (Data Collections) and the Australian Research Cloud provided by the National eResearch Collaboration Tools and Resources (NeCTAR) (Virtual Machines) project. QRIScloud comprises RDSI nodes at Brisbane, based at the University of Queensland, and Townsville, based at James Cook University.

QRIScloud is an integral part of national eResearch infrastructure, leveraging data collections stored in the local and national RDSI nodes, and integrating with access to Queensland and national (via NCI — National Computational Infrastructure) high performance computing facilities and specialised cloud computing and data services. 

More information on QCIF itself is available through its website at http://www.qcif.edu.au.

NeCTAR
The NeCTAR Research Cloud delivers tens of thousands of cores of computing capacity nationally to enhance research collaboration and outcomes. For more information, visit http://www.nectar.org.

RDSI
The RDSI project, completed in 2015, has strengthened Australia's capabilities in building and sharing large research data collections. RDSI has transitioned to the Research Data Services (RDS) project.

RDS
The Research Data Services (RDS) project provides data as a service to Australian researchers. It builds on the infrastructure for data storage and access to research collections established by the RDSI project.  RDS sustains the delivery of data services to researchers and particularly those from data-intensive communities. For more information, visit www.rds.edu.au.

Australian eResearch Infrastructure

Australian eResearch Infrastructure 

  

Seven nodes, including QCIF, work together to provide a national eResearch infrastructure to support research initiatives and enhance research outcomes. The nodes are:

  • eRSA Limited (eResearch South Australia)
  • Intersect Limited (NSW)
  • NCI (National Computational Infrastructure)
  • Pawsey Supercomputing Centre (WA – formerly known as iVec)
  • QCIF (QLD with both Brisbane and Townsville data nodes)
  • TPAC (Tasmanian Partnership for Advanced Computing) 
  • VicNode (The University of Melbourne and Monash University operate separate compute nodes and one data node called VicNode).

Cooperation between the team of partners aims to streamline service offerings to researchers and to mirror data to assist in national research collaboration efforts. 

 

Back to Table of Contents


 

2.   QRIScloud Compute Services 
 

QRIScompute, QRIScloud’s compute service, provides researchers with economical, easy-to-use and readily available cloud computing capacity suitable for a wide range of research tasks. Cloud services are often classed as: 
 

Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS)

Virtual machines with operating systems already configured.  The user builds their own application environment.

Platform-as-a-service (PaaS)

IaaS with standard platform elements included such as database management systems, workflow engines and web servers.  The user can develop and use applications using the installed platform elements.

Software-as-a-service (SaaS)

PaaS with ready-to-use applications already installed. The user can use the application without any development work.

 

QRIScloud offers infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) compute capacity provided to researchers through virtual machines (VMs) operating on the OpenStack cloud platform (called a hypervisor). Instances of these VMs can be configured with different operating systems, cores, memory and storage. PaaS and SaaS services are expected to be offered later.  

For the time being, only Linux operating systems are available. Currently supported operating systems include Ubuntu, CentOS, Scientific Linux, Fedora, openSUSE and Debian.

Operating systems that require licenses, such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Microsoft Windows, are currently under consideration for use on QRIScompute VMs.

2.1    QRIScompute Service Catalogue

Virtual machines (VMs) can be ordered in a number of standard configurations, or the user can request one of the specialised services described below. Although standard configurations can be ordered directly from NeCTAR via its dashboard, it is preferable for users to navigate to the NeCTAR Research Cloud Dashboard via the QRIScloud portal to associate the service to their QRIScloud Account.

User requests to allocate virtual machine instances from NeCTAR go through a merit selection process before approval. Requests for allocations are reviewed either nationally or locally. The review process will generally be completed within one week, however in some circumstances it may take longer. 

Users are able to request a project trial VM from NeCTAR which do not go through a merit selection process. The project trial allocation is limited to a small number of cores and duration and is intended to help users familiarise themselves with the compute resources available. Specialised configurations, noted in the QRIScloud Service Catalogue, such as the large memory nodes offered by QRIScloud, can only be ordered through QRIScloud support and will go through a local review process.


Summary of QRIScompute Services

QRIScompute offers an evolving set of computational services. The current set of services is summarised in the following table.

QRIScompute Services

 

 

Item

Sub-Item

Description

Request via

Virtual Machine

Compute Intensive

Virtual machines running on QRIScloud are configured such that each virtual CPU (vCPU) corresponds to a physical core on the underlying cloud structure.

NeCTAR Research Cloud

Computational Storage

Volume Storage

High-speed persistent disk storage that can be written and read like a physical computer’s hard drive. Volume storage is independent of VMs and can be attached to a single VM at a time for computation.

NeCTAR Research Cloud

Object Storage

Storage that contains "objects" that an application can "get" and "put" using the HTTP protocol.  Suited to data that is written once and read often.

NeCTAR Research Cloud

Special VM

Elastic Compute

A short-term allocation of compute capacity. QRIScloud elastic compute VMs can be allocated for up to seven days, and can have up to 16 cores.

QRIScloud

Large Memory

Large memory virtual machines are provided with up to 900GB of RAM memory and up to 60 cores. They can be made available for periods of up to two weeks. Extensions may be granted, depending on demand.

QRIScloud

Nimrod Service

 

Parallel job scheduler for workflow compute use cases, including parametric experiments.

QRIScloud

NCI HPC

 

Australia’s largest supercomputer facility. Allocations can be requested annually through the NCMAS round, or all through the year through QCIF's NCI share.

NCI or QRIScloud

Euramoo

 

A cloud-based compute cluster that is optimised for running multiple serial jobs requiring up to 16 cores. Euramoo supports shared memory style programs and small footprint, low network bandwidth message passing workloads. It is ideally suited to large parameter sweep or ensemble applications.

QRIScloud

FlashLite

 

A research computer to conduct data-intensive science and innovation. FlashLite supports applications that need very high performance secondary memory as well as large amounts of primary memory.

QRIScloud

 

Virtual Machines

Virtual Machines (VMs) allow a physical machine to be shared among a number of users, with each user appearing to have exclusive access to the machine. As mentioned above, QRIScompute VMs support various versions of Linux and come with different numbers of cores, and different amounts of memory and local disk storage. QRIScompute VMs are created as “reserved” instances, which means that once they are launched they remain active and are available for use until they are terminated.  

Compute Intensive
In the Compute Intensive service, VMs are configured such that one virtual CPU (vCPU) core corresponds to one physical CPU core on the underlying computer.

VMs are available in a number of standard configurations (also know as flavours), and these are:

Flavour

Cores

Memory

Root disk[1]

Ephemeral disk[2]

m1.small

1

4 GB

10 GB

30 GB

m1.medium

2

8 GB

10 GB

70 GB

m1.large

4

16 GB

10 GB

120 GB

m1.xlarge

8

32 GB

10 GB

240 GB

m1.xxlarge

16

64 GB

10 GB

480 GB

m2.xsmall

1

2 GB

10 GB

0 GB

m2.small

1

4 GB

30 GB

0 GB

m2.medium

2

6 GB

30 GB

0 GB

m2.large

4

12 GB

30 GB

80 GB

m2.xlarge

12

48 GB

30 GB

360 GB

 

Whilst VMs are presently requested through the NeCTAR Research Cloud via the available dashboard, it is preferable for users to navigate to the NeCTAR dashboard via the QRIScloud services portal.


[1] Root disk is a virtual disk partition that is used to store the operating system and associated software.

[2] Ephemeral disk is a second virtual disk partition that is used to store user programs and data. The contents of the ephemeral disk are retained until the VM is shut down. Note: Ephemeral disk is not included in VM snapshots and the user is responsible for maintaining backups of its contents, if required. 



Computational Storage

Any of the Compute Intensive VM configurations can be ordered with limited additional storage. This computational storage comes in two different forms of storage, Volume Storage and Object Storage. Additionally Compute Intensive VMs can be connected to data stored in QRISdata or elsewhere via NFS (see “Adding Storage and Data to VMs” below). 

Volume Storage
Volume storage is high-speed, persistent disk storage, which appears as regular block storage that can be written to and read from, just like a normal hard disk in a computer. Volume Storage can be attached and detached from a VM, however it cannot be simultaneously shared across multiple VMs. For volume storage to be used in conjunction with a VM instance, both the instance and the volume storage need to be allocated on the same node. 

Object Storage
Object storage differs from volume storage in that it is designed for static data that does not change often. The data is organised as “objects” that an application can access using the HTTP protocol’s GET and PUT operations. Object storage is ideal for data that is written once and read many times. Object storage within QRIScompute is geographically dispersed (copied across three locations) and can be accessed in a similar way to Amazon’s S3 service. 

For computational storage that is part of QRIScompute (Volume and Object Storage), there is protection against media loss, however the responsibility for preserving the data lies with the user. (See FAQs: Q4.5 — ‘Is NeCTAR storage backed up?’ and Q4.6 — ‘Is NeCTAR storage safe?’)

Adding Storage and Data to VMs

In addition to volume storage and object storage, QRIScompute VMs can access data and collections stored in QRISdata through a Network File System (NFS) connection. The QRIScloud Help Desk can assist in establishing an NFS connection to QRISdata data. (See FAQs Q3.6.2 Howdo I get NFS accessto mydata?’ and Q3.6.3 Is NFS accesssecure?’ for more information about NFS access to data.) 

Special VM

QRIScompute offers users of QRIScloud a number of specialised virtual machine services that use local capabilities to provide enhanced VMs.

Elastic Compute
Elastic compute specialised VMs provide short-term, high volume compute capacity to cater for on-demand computational needs. Elastic compute VMs can run for up to seven days and can be configured with up to 16 cores. Depending on demand, extensions beyond seven days may
be considered.

Large Memory
Large memory specialised VMs provide short-term compute capacity and can be configured with up to 900 GB of RAM memory and 60 cores. Large memory VMs are available in blocks of time of up to 14 days. Depending on demand, extensions beyond 14 days may be considered.
 

Nimrod service

Nimrod is a specialised parametric modelling system toolkit for distributed, high throughput computing. Nimrod automates the tasks of formulating, running, monitoring, and collating results from multiple experiments. More information on Nimrod is available through the Research Computing Centre’s website.

QRIScompute offers access to the Nimrod parallel job scheduler for workflow compute use cases and parametric experiments.


2.2    Acquiring QRIScompute VMs

The preferred way for our users to acquire standard VMs (and the only way to acquire specialised VMs) is via a QRIScloud portal service request. If not already authenticated, the QRIScloud portal will expect the user to:

  • login using their AAF (Australian Access Federation) credentials, and
  • register with QRIScloud if this has not been done previously.

All users associated with a university, CSIRO and most other research institutions in Australia will be able to use their organisational ID (login name) and password as their AAF credential without any further process. 

If a user has no AAF credential, one can be created via the Request an institutional account QRIScloud link. A user can then order a standard VM and will be redirected to the NeCTAR Dashboard. Once there the user will be asked to provide their AAF credentials a second time. They then have the options of: 

  • instantly launching a two-core instance in a project trial (pt-nnn — for short-term use) or
  • requesting a VM allocation for longer-term use (click on Allocations > New request). Longer-term requests need to go through an approval process, so provisioning is not instant.

To add volume and/or object storage to a VM allocation request, the user should include these options in their application.

By default, VMs will be allocated to run on the least congested node within the Australian Research Cloud. Users who specifically need to run their instances on QRIScloud should enter Queensland in the Geographic Location field of the allocation request. They should then select QRIScloud in the Availability Zone tab at the time they launch their instance.

The allocation approval process takes five business days. NeCTAR notifies the user directly once the approval is granted, or not, and QRIScloud also receives a notification.


 2.3 Launching a QRIScompute VM instance

Comprehensive instructions on launching and using NeCTAR VMs are available from the NeCTAR website: http://support.rc.nectar.org.au/docs/getting-started


2.4    QRIScompute VM Security and Resilience 

Security and resilience are provided through the QRIScloud access control systems, the production quality data centres that house the QRIScompute equipment, and the protections provided within the NeCTAR OpenStack cloud hypervisor.  OpenStack is an open source commercial-grade product used by a wide range of commercial cloud providers as well as by NeCTAR.

Users are fully responsible for the maintenance and operation of their virtual machines. This includes, but is not limited to, the installation of security patches. Users must ensure the virtual machines are only used by authorised users and for legitimate purposes.

QCIF offers a service providing system administration and data management expertise to deliver end-to-end managed services of your QRIScloud resources. For more information see section 6.3.


2.5    Further Information about Cloud Compute Services

QRIScloud staff have created the Virtual Wranglers portal (https://espaces.edu.au/vwrangler) to provide information about many aspects of NeCTAR instance operations.

Step-by-step instructions on how to set up a NeCTAR instance can be found at: https://github.com/threehundred/catami/wiki/Set-up-a-virtual-machine-on-neCTAR.

Background information explaining what NeCTAR images are, and how to use them, can be found at: https://support.rc.nectar.org.au/docs/images.

Researchers are also welcome to consult their university's eResearch Analyst.

 

Back to Table of Contents 


3. QRIScloud Data Storage, Management and Access Services

 

QRISdata, QRIScloud’s data storage, management and access service, stores and makes available
data for:

  • active research and innovation projects that are creating and accessing data as part of their research and development work
  • retaining as collections of lasting national importance for Australian and international research
  • rchiving from completed research projects, particularly published data.

QRISdata provides researchers with economical, easy-to-use and readily available:

  • data storage capacity with several options providing different access performance characteristics to meet various research needs
  • data management tools to ingest and move data, to control access to the data and to ready the data for discovery and use
  • data access methods for retrieving and making use of the data for research.

QRISdata is suitable for a wide range of research tasks. The most common format for storing data in QRIScloud uses NFS, the Network File System.

The custodian of data held in QRIScloud can grant other users access to their data, and only authorised users are able to gain access.

With any data stored in QRIScloud two replica copies are stored for data resilience, unless users seek other arrangements. One of the replicas is stored in a separate physical location from the primary copy of the data. This provides strong security against the very low possibility of data loss to provide users with best practice data resilience.

QRIScloud users are responsible for any backups of their data. QRIScloud’s replication should not be treated as a backup by the user as it is designed purely for resilience and fault tolerance against media failure. This contrasts with backup services which are designed to protect against unintended user changes or deletions and may include levels of content version control. 

QRISdata is stored in three interconnected data centres, two near Brisbane and one in Townsville. 

3.1    QRISdata Service Catalogue

Summary of QRISdata services 

QRISdata offers an evolving set of data storage, data access and data management services. The current set of services is summarised in the following table (also see the QRISdata Service Catalogue).
 

QRISdata Services

 

 

Item

Sub-Item

Description

Request via

Standard Storage

Frequent Access

A disk storage and access facility for data sets that are either changing or require frequent access. Offered through NFS interface.

QRIScloud

Infrequent Access

Combined disk and tape storage and access facility for data sets that are accessed less frequently, are less volatile and are not being used for compute intensive work. Offered through NFS interface.

QRIScloud

Archive Storage

 

Archival storage for data sets. Data may be held offline.

QRIScloud

Data mirror

 

The provision of a copy of a user’s data set onto another node.

QRIScloud

Data movement

 

Hoover

Ingest from a range of USB-attached media at high speed.

QRIScloud

Dustbuster

Ingest using a portable 20 TB network-attached storage device to collect data from users. Dustbuster can also be used for data movement to other storage.

QRIScloud

 

Standard storage
QRISdata’s standard storage service provides allocations of storage media up to several petabytes (PB). Users of QRISdata can select which type of storage to use based on how frequently the data is accessed and whether the data is static or changing. Access to data stored in QRISdata is offered through a Network File System (NFS) connection.

Frequent Access
Users will select frequent access storage when their data is the subject of active research and is being used and updated frequently.

Infrequent Access
Users will select infrequent access storage when their data sets are used intermittently. A combination of disk and tape storage is used in conjunction with a Hierarchical Storage Management (HSM) system to migrate data between tape and a disk cache for access.

QRISdata’s standard storage services aim to have one on-site replica in place within 24 hours and one off-site replica in place within 48 hours of the primary copy of the data being ingested. This replication is to provide redundancy and hardware fault tolerance. It should not be treated as the backup regime for the user.

Archive Storage
Archival storage provides a storage facility for data sets that are rarely used. Archived data may be stored off-line. 

Data Mirror
QRISdata’s data mirror service makes a copy of a data set available to users at another node within the Australian Research Cloud so that users at that node can compute over or access the data without incurring network delays. 

Data Movement
QRISdata provides a number of data movement services to assist with the ingest and egress of data sets. Data ingest is the process of moving data into QRIScloud storage. Data egress is the process of moving data out of QRIScloud storage.

Hoover
Hoover is a high-speed ingest service that can use a range of USB-accessible media.

Dustbuster
Dustbuster is a portable network-attached storage (NAS) device that is used to collect data for ingest. This can also be used for data egress.

Adding QRISdata Storage and Data to VMs
The QRIScloud Help Desk can assist in establishing an NFS connection between a QRIScompute VM and QRISdata collections or user data.

 

3.2    Applying for Storage Services 

Data storage is requested by a custodian, the person or role that is responsible for the ongoing management of the data. Access to the data is controlled by the custodian — whether open to all, or users must request access to the data via the custodian.

To request data storage, custodians should lodge a request through the QRIScloud portal. One of our eResearch Analysts will contact them to discuss their needs.

Meritorious Collections
Meritorious collections are data that are intended for use and reuse by future generations of researchers. Data storage for meritorious collections is usually allocated for a longer period on a 'merit' basis. All applications for merit storage, except for ‘small grant’ [less than 1 TB] applications, are assessed by QRIScloud’s Research Advisory Committee, which meets monthly. QRIScloud can pre-allocate storage if the need is urgent, in which case storage could be made available within one working day. Small grant allocations can be made immediately.


3.3    Using Storage Services

Data that has been stored using QRISdata can be accessed and used for a number of purposes:

  • discovering data
  • accessing the data to read it, update it and compute over it
  • authorising other users to access the data
  • ingesting data into the storage
  • moving or extracting the data.

The following sections describe how this is done. 

Data Discovery Services

Data discovery involves searching catalogues that depend on metadata. Metadata is a set of data that describes and gives information about the data contained within a collection, for example the nature of the data, when and why it was collected, and information about the instrument, sensor or survey document that was used to collect it. 

QRIScloud encourages users to follow the data management policies published by their organisation and the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research. Data custodians and collectors will find it easiest to “label” their data with appropriate metadata from the outset.

Adding metadata to data collections stored on QRIScloud is a user responsibility. QRIScloud expects all data submitted for meritorious allocation will include metadata.

Available metadata stored on QRIScloud can be harvested and provided to the custodian’s institutional library repositories such as UQ eSpace and QUT's Research Data Finder. These repositories then make their data available for local searches and additionally to the ANDS national collection catalogue, Research Data Australia (RDA), where it is more widely discoverable by any interested user. Collection metadata is regularly indexed by services such as Google Scholar.

Discovering QRISdata Collections

Users can view the current list of public QRISdata collections at any time through the QRIScloud portal. This listing is organised by the primary Field of Research code assigned to the data.

Users can request access to specific data collections through the QRIScloud portal. Navigate to the collection you are interested in on the QRIScloud collections webpage and then click the "Request Access" button and complete the form.

See section 7.3 for more information about QRISdata collections.

Accessing QRISdata Collections 

Collections can be accessed via:

  • Network File System (NFS), which allows a VM to mount the collection. This option is suitable for collections that are being computed over or that require collaboration over the data among a group of researchers. This is only possible where the VM and the associated data are in the same data centre. For example, if a user’s VM is on another node, but their data is on QRIScloud, the VM will not be able to access the data.
  • Collection VMs, which allow the collection to be accessed via methods such as sftp, scp and WebDAV. Data custodians are currently provided with a set of Read/Write and Read Only credentials which they can share with others, should they wish to. QRIScloud has implemented a more secure system based on a combination of AAF authentication and individual QRISdata collection credentials. The collection owner/data custodian will still control and grant any access.

A custodian may ask for their data to be made accessible by a specific data access service. However, during the assessment of an application and in consultation with the custodian, it may be determined that an alternative data access service would be more suitable or appropriate depending on how the data is intended to be used and what QRIScloud resources are available.

A range of protocols and tools are available to access the data in the storage services. They have different characteristics, and the appropriate one to use will depend on the needs of the researcher. 

The currently supported protocols are:

  • Secure SHell (SSH): a protocol that supports ssh, rsync and sftp tools.
  • WebDAV: protocol that can be used to attach the storage as a network drive. Native support is built in to Microsoft Windows, Apple OS X and various Linux distributions.
  • Globus GridFTP: used for data transfer with other Globus Online endpoints.
  • Aspera: efficient data transfer using Aspera’s products (coming soon).

Further, it is possible to mount collections to a VM by using the Network File System (NFS) protocol.

Authorisation for Data Access 

Users can only access the data if the custodian has authorised QRISdata to allow the specific individual or a group to do so. Some custodians may choose to open access to their data to everyone.

QRISdata provides secure access control to data collections where each user has their own QRIScloud service access credential (QSAC) to access the data. The service access credential uses an automatically generated username and password that is associated with a user’s QRIScloud Account and used to access QRIScloud services. Data custodians can manage the access to their collections with the ability to grant or revoke a user’s access.

This replaces the previous system where storage allocations had two sets of usernames and passwords: one that provided read and write access to the data, and one that provided read-only access. The data custodian granted access to a user by providing them with a copy of the appropriate shared username and password.

Data Transfer (including Data Ingest) 

Data can be transferred into, and out of, QRIScloud storage. The uploading of data into storage is called “data ingest”. The downloading of data from storage is called “data egress”.

Data can be ingested by the user using any of the data access methods described above in the section titled "Accessing QRISdata collections".

QRIScloud offers services to assist with data ingest when there is a large volume of data to transfer and/or a user’s network connection is slow. The best solution will be determined on a case-by-case basis, but has included:

  • Hoover: Copying of data from external USB-attached devices physically delivered to QCIF
  • Dustbuster: Sending a large-capacity Network Attached Storage (NAS) to the user to copy the data onto and then retrieving the NAS for ingest.

If users have special data ingest needs, please contact the QRIScloud Help Desk.

The same options are available for retrieving, or downloading, the data from QRIScloud storage.

3.4    QRISdata Security and Resilience 

The data centres QRIScloud uses provide a highly secure and reliable environment for the storage of research data. It is far more reliable than USB drives and portable hard disks, and is designed to complement well-managed data storage provided by your institution.

In terms of resilience, QRIScloud keeps three copies of all data, unless otherwise advised by the custodian. QRIScloud will provide one replica tape copy at a remote data centre meeting industry best-practice.    

3.5    Terms and Conditions

If users apply for data storage, they will be asked to agree to comply with QRIScloud’s data terms and conditions of use.

 

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4.    Accounts

 

4.1    QRIScloud Accounts

Intending users require a QRIScloud Account to request and use QRIScloud services. With an Account the user can login to the “Accounts” section of the QRIScloud portal to:

  • request QRIScloud services
  • track the progress of their data storage requests
  • view the services they have access to
  • update information in their profile
  • obtain their QRIScloud Services Access Credential (see section 4.3)
  • submit a support ticket
  • browse existing collections
  • request access to existing collections. 

Users can submit a support ticket to the QRIScloud Help Desk without a QRIScloud Account. However, with a QRIScloud Account, their support requests can be linked to their account and their services and more information is shared with both the user and the support team. 

Members, partners and customers of QCIF receive usage reports and other information about their staff and students and the use they make of QRIScloud. These organisations can nominate QRIScloud account holders as institutional account holders and all institutional account holders will be able to enquire and receive information provided to such stakeholders.


4.2    Obtaining a QRIScloud Account  

A user obtains a QRIScloud Account by going to the “Accounts” section of the QRIScloud portal and registering for one.

Associated with a QRIScloud Account is the user’s profile. This contains contact information for the user (such as phone numbers and an alternative email address) as well as alternative contact details, to be used if the user cannot be contacted directly about their services. It is important for the user to keep this information up-to-date, because for proper operation of their services they may need to be contacted. 


4.3    Service Access Credential 

The QRIScloud Service Access Credential is a username and password associated with a QRIScloud Account, which is required in order for a user to access QRIScloud services. The username is assigned when the QRIScloud Account is created and the password can be reset and obtained from the Credentials page, under the Account section of the QRIScloud portal.  

The password is randomly generated to improve security. It is recommended that users keep the password secure by storing it in a password manager. 

If the user requires a new password, or has forgotten their existing password, the QRIScloud portal allows the user to regenerate the password for their Service Access Credential. This new password is written back to the LDAP server so that authentication with the new password can occur.


4.4    User Institutional Account  

QRIScloud requires users to have a credential recognised by the Australian Access Federation (AAF) access control systems. An AAF credential validated by an AAF login is a prerequisite to registration for a QRIScloud Account.

Users at Australian research institutions
Users at Australian universities and other research institutions will already have an AAF-recognised institutional account. All universities and most research institutions subscribe to AAF. These users will be able to use their institutional login and password as their AAF credential without any further process.

Other users
Users who do not have an AAF-recognised institutional account can apply for a credential from QCIF via the Request an institutional account link. Examples of such situations are accounts provided to QCIF’s government and industry clients and to international collaborators with a legitimate reason for accessing QRIScloud. 

Using an institutional account as an AAF login
An institutional account can be used for all services that require an AAF login such as the QRIScloud portal and the NeCTAR Research Cloud Dashboard. When the service requires an AAF authentication, the service will automatically redirect access requests to the institution's login page and will return to the service following AAF authentication.

If a QRIScloud portal interaction involves a visit to the NeCTAR dashboard, the user will be asked for their AAF credentials twice, once by QRIScloud and a second time by NeCTAR.

Irrespective of which authentication method is used or which credentials are required, once authenticated, the user will be able to access the services granted to them.

 

4.5    Member Account

QRIScloud Accounts with the Member Representative role will be able to access information about the use of QRIScloud services by that Member's institution.

Member Representatives need to register for a QRIScloud Account and then submit a QRIScloud support request to be assigned the role for their institution. QCIF will verify the request before assigning the role.

  

4.6    QRIScloud Policies and Terms of Use 

We expect our users to:

  • agree to QRIScloud’s terms and conditions of use
  • adhere to QRIScloud’s policies
  • follow security policies recommended by their institution
  • protect resources they have on QRIScloud.

Any queries about QRIScloud’s data and compute security and resiliencies should be directed to the QRIScloud Help Desk.
 

Policies

QRIScloud’s Policy statements are available on the QRIScloud Portal at: https://services.qriscloud.org.au/doc/policies/. These include the following:

  • Privacy Policy
  • Collection Management Policy
  • Acceptable Use Policy
  • Information Security Policy
  • Attribution Policy.

Terms of Use

QRIScloud Services
The terms of use for QRIScloud services is through the QRIScloud portal (link below). Users are expected to agree to these terms or cease using the portal. 

QRIScompute Services
NeCTAR has click-through terms of use that users agree to when they accept services provided through the website. NeCTAR is in the process of upgrading these terms.

QRISdata Services
Custodians who apply for data storage services from QRIScloud are asked to agree to the click-through data terms of use.

QRIScloud’s Terms and Conditions are available on the QRIScloud portal at: https://services.qriscloud.org.au/doc/policies/. These include the following:

  • QRIScloud Services Terms and Conditions
  • QRIScloud Data Custodian Terms and Conditions

QCIF is currently developing the QRIScompute Terms and Conditions.

 

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5.    Support Services

 

QRIScloud provides a range of support services to ensure that users and prospective users have access to comprehensive information and training and can obtain expert help and advice whenever necessary.

These services include:

Self-help

QRIScloud maintains a growing collection of online resources to assist users (see below) .

Help Desk

QRIScloud's Help Desk provides access to expert staff to assist users with requests for information or requests for help with any QRIScloud operational issues.

Notifications

When there are known situations that might affect or impact the operation of QRIScloud services, such as scheduled maintenance or a disruption of service, QRIScloud will contact affected users. Notifications can be through:

      the  QRISnews e-newsletter via email (subscribe)

      QRIS Alerts via email (subscribe)

      Twitter (follow @qriscloud)

      the Help Desk portal.

News and Announcements

QRIScloud produces a monthly e-newsletter called QRISnews  (subscribe).

Training and skills development

To assist in understanding QRIScloud and how to best use QRIScloud services, QRIScloud offers training and skill development sessions which can be requested through the QRIScloud Help Desk. Delivery can be arranged as either online or face-to-face. See section 5.5.

Feedback

QRIScloud continuously seeks to improve its services, performance and user experience. As such, users of QRIScloud may be requested to provide feedback or complete surveys to assist QRIScloud in this effort.

Other sources of suppor

In some instances, users may submit a support request to the QRIScloud Help Desk for a service that is provided by one of QRIScloud's partners. In these cases, the QRIScloud Help Desk with redirect users to the appropriate support provider.

 

Users seeking further information about support services should contact the QRIScloud Help Desk or read the support webpage at: www.qriscloud.org.au/support.

 

5.1    Self-help

Users can obtain online self-help information from the QRIScloud portal’s Support webpage and the QRIScloud Help Desk. Self-help includes:

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions provide straightforward assistance for QRIScloud users.

QRIScloud User Guides

Material providing more detailed information to assist users to understand the more complex QRIScloud facilities and to make use of them effectively.

How-to Guides

Material directed towards achieving specific tasks or activities. 

If a user cannot find the self-help information they are looking for, please contact the QRIScloud Help Desk

QRIScloud will continue to create and enhance self-help resources.

  

Other Self-help Resources

The Virtual Wranglers site is a community knowledge base for users managing virtual machines on QRIScompute, other NeCTAR nodes or other services, as well as more general matters to do with cloud computing and systems administration. Users are welcome to contribute to this knowledge base. Use your AAF credentials to login and add information.

NeCTAR has its own self-help resources for its compute cloud services.

 

5.2    Help Desk

Users can contact the QRIScloud Help Desk by:  

  • submitting a service request via the QRIScloud portal, emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or phoning 07 3346 4202.
  • contacting their own institution’s help desk, who may refer the question on to QRIScloud.

Users should provide the following information when submitting a support request:

  • identify the QRIScloud service that this support request applies to
  • a brief summary of the question or problem being experienced
  • the impact that is being experienced
  • a detailed description of the problem being experienced, including
    • when the problem was first noticed
    • what steps have been attempted so far to address the problem.

The support team welcomes questions and requests for advice about all aspects of QRIScloud’s data and compute services, including operational matters. The team can, where possible, help with troubleshooting problems and provide advice on how best to use QRIScloud infrastructure.  

The QRIScloud Help Desk will assign a priority to all requests involving a problem according to the severity of the problem. Responses will be within the timeframes specified in the QRIScloud Service Level Agreement (see Appendix C).

Please note:

  • Users who submit requests through their institutional help desks will receive feedback through their institutional help desks, and not directly from the QRIScloud Help Desk.
  • In cases where the user asks QRIScloud for support that is provided by other support agents, QRIScloud will redirect the user to the appropriate source of support. 

Help Desk Operations

The QRIScloud Help Desk is staffed during normal business hours, 9am–5pm, Monday to Friday except for public holidays. See Appendix B for QRIScloud Help Desk response times.


Escalation to Partner Providers 

Some QRIScloud services are provided through QRIScloud partners or third-party suppliers. While resolving a support request it may be necessary for the QRIScloud Help Desk to escalate an issue to a partner or third-party supplier. In these instances, users will be kept informed of any such escalation in conjunction with responses and progress to resolution.

 

5.3    Notifications  

QRIScloud staff will keep users informed about actions that might affect their use of the services, such as software or hardware upgrades, scheduled maintenance downtime, and incidents such as denial of service attacks.  

Where the actions are NeCTAR Cloud issues, and not local to QRIScloud, information will be sent directly to users from NeCTAR.

Where actions are local to QRIScloud, the notifications will come from QRIScloud. 

Notifications from QRIScloud will be sent via email to the lead researcher on a NeCTAR project (QRIScompute issues), or to the data custodian (QRISdata issues). Information will also be disseminated through the QRIScloud Twitter stream, QRIS Alerts, and QRISnews, a monthly e-newsletter (subscribe).

QRIScloud will always strive to give adequate notice of any planned downtime. Where incidents occur that might result in an interruption of service, we will notify users as soon as possible, and report on progress and problem resolution.

 

5.4    News and Announcements

QRIScloud’s e-newsletter QRISnews provides up-to-date information, announcements and tips on how to use QRIScloud more effectively. Feeds appear monthly and on special occasions, through an email to users who are on the email list (subscribe), and through qriscloud.org.au. There is also a QRIScloud Twitter channel for regular news and updates: https://twitter.com/qriscloud.

  

5.5    Training and Skills Development

For all training and skills development, please contact the QRIScloud Help Desk for more information.

QRIScloud will continue to develop training content and courses to ensure users get the most out of their data and compute services.

 

FlashLite

The University of Queensland’s Research Computing Centre (RCC) is delivering training for all FlashLite users, including:

  • new user training sessions
  • information sessions
  • specialist training on the use of vSMP software. 

RCC will hold information sessions to help researchers and support staff decide if FlashLite, a data-intensive research computer, is right for their research problems.

All training sessions will be listed on the RCC website: http://www.rcc.uq.edu.au/training.

Please contact RCC Support with any FlashLite training queries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Other training

The V3 Alliance offers a range of online tutorials for software such as Matlab DCS, R and Gaussian. See the full list of tutorials

 

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6.    Professional Services

 

QRIScloud offers a range of professional services to assist researchers and research communities to increase their research potential through the use of advanced information technology. These comprise:

  • Engagement services to discover new techniques for conducting research and new ways of applying existing applications, tools, data, workflows and services
  • Engineering services to develop new applications, extend existing ones or build production applications from research prototypes
  • Managed services to operate and keep virtual machines and research data collections operating smoothly and productively.


6.1    Engagement Services 

QCIF’s eResearch Analysts are experts in QCIF’s service offerings and in QRIScloud infrastructure. They can find new ways to apply advanced information technology to conduct innovative research, and to enable researchers without an IT background to make use of leading edge applications. In doing so they assist researchers to maximise the value from their data with the application of appropriate resources, including QRIScloud, and data-intensive and compute-intensive HPC (high performance computing). 

The Engagement Services team can help:

  • analyse research projects to propose new ways of leveraging information technology
  • identify QRIScloud services and tools that can support or enhance research practices
  • leverage eResearch technologies and tools to assist collaboration
  • apply for data storage and compute resources
  • access high performance computing resources
  • manage data in accordance with the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research and with accepted standards in a user’s research discipline
  • implement open data sharing practices.


6.2    Engineering Services 

QCIF operates a dedicated team of software engineering professionals who can develop and deliver software services and products to researchers, government and industry.

Engineering Services specialises in data and metadata management platforms and are responsible for the ReDBox suite of research metadata management software products.

The support offered by Engineering Services includes:

  • rapid prototyping: delivering tangible software products and services in short project timeframes to test innovative approaches
  • cloud development: developing new applications for the cloud, or migrating and upgrading existing applications
  • business analysis: identifying requirements, business process design, options analysis and business case development
  • project design, budgeting and establishment (including grant proposals, contracts, IP agreements, etc.)
  • project management: project scoping, planning, risk and quality management, budgeting, procurement, resource management and stakeholder management
  • relationship management between project stakeholders.


6.3    Managed Services 

QCIF has a team of system administration and data management professionals who can provide managed services for QRIScloud users, including system-level management of compute and data storage resources, management of application-level software platforms, and data management.

Managed Services are all supported by a Service Level Agreement (see Appendix C). These services include:

  • Managed Hosting Services: Includes allocation and provisioning of QRIScloud server and data storage resources, managing access to the resources, providing system-level administration of the resources (operating system and platform upgrades, security patches, resource monitoring) and managing service and support requests through the QRIScloud Help Desk.
  • Application Management Services: Providing management of research and data management tools and applications hosted on QRIScloud. Working with Engineering Services, QCIF can offer complete management of the application lifecycle, from implementation and migration through to strategic application planning, upgrades and ultimately decommissioning
  • Data Services: Offering services complementary to our data storage service, including: data capture and data ingest, data curation, data cataloguing, metadata generation, and metadata publishing. QCIF’s Data Services experts can also assist in data asset discovery, data audits and data science analytics.


6.4    Accessing Services

To access QCIF's Professional Services or discuss how these services can assist you, please contact:

Gavin Kennedy
Outreach and Engineering Manager
QCIF
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Mob: 0413 337 819
Ph: +617 3138 1588

 

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7.    Research sharing and collaboration

 

Many researchers are using their QRIScloud storage to make data collections available to others — whether for real-time collaboration on ongoing research or for open data sharing.

For open data sharing, the most popular method is via a Web portal. For example:

  • The Stemformatics project and The Global Reef Record have been using QRIScloud for more than 18 months to support the open sharing of their data.
  • The UQ Centre for Advanced Imaging created Tissue Stack to enable researchers to collaborate over images in real time.
  • UQ’s Ecology Centre has used a Web server to make available a Web-accessible version of their conservation planning tool, Marxan. The site also provides documentation, including video.
  • QUT researchers have set up the Bioacoustic Workbench to provide a repository of information and audio recording annotations for fauna that make human-audible sounds.

QRIScloud is suited to the storage of large data collections. Researchers needing lesser amounts of storage might be better served by using institutional data stores or services such as CloudStorPlus.
 

7.1 Sensitive Data

QRIScloud prefers to allocate storage and other resources to research projects that intend to make their data open. However, if you have ethical, commercial-in-confidence, embargo or other impediments to data sharing, we are still happy to consider your application.  

QRIScloud staff are happy to discuss researchers’ needs in this area.
 

7.2    Research Communities

With QRIScloud, research communities can:

  • create and operate Web portals providing researchers in their community access to community information, applications, tools, services and data collections
  • provide researchers with secure access to data collections valuable to the community, and space for data created and processed during research projects
  • interoperate with their national and international collaborators.


7.3    Data Collections 

Anyone can view the full list of public data collections that are currently held on QRIScloud at any time through the QRIScloud portal: https://services.qriscloud.org.au/services/collection-storage/collections

The listing is organised by the primary Field of Research code assigned to the data. 

Users can request access to specific data collections through the QRIScloud portal. Navigate to the collection you are interested in on the QRIScloud collections webpage and then click the "Request Access" button and complete the form.

QRIScloud also stores some data collections that are not visible or open to the public. The owner or custodian of the collection manages access and invites people to request access.

If you have an issue accessing a data collection on QRIScloud, please submit a request to the
QRIScloud Help Desk

Some QRISdata collections can be already accessed through Web portals, e.g.: 

Most Australian research institutions have a repository to view information about their data collections, e.g. QUT’s ResearchDataFinder, UQ’s UQ eSpace, JCU’s Data Repository, and CQUniversity’s ACQUIRE. These repositories all send records to Research Data Australia as well, so many data collections will appear in both places.

If based at a Queensland university, contact your institution’s eResearch Analyst for more information.


National data services 

Many data collections stored on QRIScloud are also listed on Research Data Australia (RDA), the data discovery service operated by the Australian National Data Service (ANDS).

Data descriptions on RDA should generally provide enough information to view the data through an existing portal or to request access to the data from the custodian. Records can be searched by a researcher’s name, keyword, grant, or by institution.

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APPENDICES

 

Appendix A: Infrastructure and Technical Specifications

 

QCIF, in conjunction with The University of Queensland (UQ) in Brisbane and James Cook University (JCU) in Townsville, has established and operates large-scale research infrastructure providing compute and data services in Queensland.  

Safety and security of compute and data is assured through state-of-the-art data centre facilities, high performance and highly available infrastructure, network security systems, data replication and support by QRIScloud technical specialists and global vendors.

QRIScompute Infrastructure 

QRIScompute, QRIScloud’s compute service, allows any researcher affiliated with an Australian research institution access to NeCTAR cloud compute infrastructure (the Australian Research Cloud) to facilitate computational research, data processing, modelling, analysis and collaboration.

QRIScompute services are based on the OpenStack software platform as provisioned through NeCTAR, which has  eight data centres across Australia. All critical QRIScompute infrastructure management components are configured as highly available (active/active) systems. 

The basic QRIScloud VM services operate as 'infrastructure-as-a-service' (IaaS) and are suitable for technical users with skills in Linux system administration. QCIF offers system administration services at an additional charge for users who do not have Linux expertise or access to those who do. QRIScloud also offers QCIF Members access to a range of special compute services including elastic compute, large memory and cluster-as-a-service (ClaaS).

 

Detailed QRIScompute specifications

Item

Quantity

Description

Nova Compute Nodes

45

 

10

 

54

 

8

Intel Xeon E5-2670 v3 24 cores @2.3GHz, 256GB RAM

 

Opteron 6380 64 cores @2.5GHz, 256GB RAM

 

AMD 6376 64 cores @2.3 GHz, 256GB RAM

 

Opteron 6278 with 64 cores @2.4GHz,  256GB RAM

Swift Storage Nodes

5

Intel E5-2620 LV2 @2.0 GHz, 32GB RAM

Large Memory Nodes

1

4

Intel Xeon CPU, E5-4620-v2, 8 core @2.6GHz 1024 GB

Quad AMD 6376 16 cores @2.6 GHz, 1024GB  RAM


QRISdata Infrastructure 

QRIScloud provides very large data storage for research, including data for active research and significant collections of data for reuse. Data custodians can store, ingest and manage data holdings. Authorised users can access data holdings and collections. This infrastructure is based on a combination of very high performance/high capacity spinning disk and tape based storage infrastructure with high speed (Infiniband — IB) interconnectivity. All QRISdata infrastructure components are configured as highly available (active/passive) with multipath connectivity.

 

Detailed QRISdata specifications

Item

Quantity

Description

Ceph Storage

500+ TB (usable)

Brisbane only

      2 Ceph Storage Node Servers SGI C2112-RP2

      2 Ceph Storage Node Servers SGI ISS3112

      SGI IS5500 Storage Arrays with 1.5 PB of 3TB NL-SAS and 24 x 600 GB SSD

Disk Storage

(Frequent Access)

4.98 PB (usable) of general purpose, Network File System (NFS) mounted disk storage

 

2.1 PB (usable) of general purpose, Network File System (NFS) mounted disk storage

Brisbane Primary Data Centre Disk Storage:

      Two SGI C2108 Head Nodes with 20 cores, 256GB memory, 2x FDR IB, 2x 56GbE SLES, SLES HA

      DDN SFA12KX with 3TB SSD and 20 TB 10K SAS providing 2.56 PB usable storage

      DDN SFA12K20 (upgraded to SFA12KX) providing 2.42 PB usable storage

      Replication (on/off site) via Mediaflux and a backup replication

 

 

Townsville Primary Data Centre Disk Storage:

      DDN SFKX40G with 1.7 PB PB usable storage

      SGI IS5500 Array with 400 TB usable storage

      Replication (off site) to Brisbane Primary and Secondary Data Centres

Tape Storage

10 PB (Infrequent access)

15.28 PB (Archive Storage )

 

14.88 PB (Archive Storage)

Hierarchical Storage Management (HSM), which is tape storage with a front-end disk cache, providing on-site data storage and on and off site replication capacity:

 

Brisbane Primary Data Centre:

      Two Brocade 6510 16Gb FC switches with 24 ports

      Two SGI C2108 DMF Servers each 20 core, 256GB, 6x 16Gb FC ports, 2x 56GbE ports with DMF HA

      DMF Disk Cache - IS5600 with 5x 800GB SSDs, 240x 4TB drives 720TB usable

      Oracle SL8500, T10KD drives

Secondary Data Centre:

      One Brocade 6510 16Gb FC switch with 24 ports

      Oracle SL8500, T10KD drives

      DMF cache - Two IS5500 arrays, 15 TB capacity.

  

Hosting and Network Services 

QRIScloud infrastructure is hosted across three geographically separated data centres providing a combination of diversity and resilience to ensure security and accessibility of services to QRIScloud users across Queensland and Australia.

This is complemented by high-speed and diverse network connectivity between data centres and member networks provided through AARNet 4 (AARNet’s new 100Gbps backbone capacity with a range of flexible services tightly coupled with cloud services and data centre providers) 10Gbps internode and Internet links provisioned through the RDSI DaShNet project. This is based on the Science DMZ[3] model to assure the network supports high performance science applications, including high-volume bulk data transfer, remote experiment control, and data visualisation.

Further enhancements are in progress through the National Research Network (NRN) Sunshine Backbone Network Upgrades Project which will replace the existing 10Gbps fibre optic network service on the Sunshine Backbone Network with a high capacity optical network between Brisbane and Cairns, providing a diverse backbone ring at 100Gbps for corporate and research traffic to a number of QCIF member sites.

 

Detailed QRIScloud hosting and network specifications

Item

Description

Brisbane Primary Data Centre

      Tier 3 + data centre facilities with N+2 high availability solution and a Service Level Agreement (SLA) ensuring 99.99% data centre power availability.

      QCIF has contracted for a minimum of 20 and a maximum of 50 racks and up to 150 kW of power (can be increased).

      Physically diverse, high capacity (10Gbps) access fibre to

      Node VPN (connecting all eight national primary and additional storage nodes;

      Internet

      Science DMZ:

      Border Edge (BE) switches, to establish a "clean network path" for large scale data transfers;

      Data Transfer Nodes (DTNs), configured with application software tuned for large scale data transfers; and

      Performance monitoring and measurement appliances to monitor and report on network performance.

Brisbane Secondary Data Centre

      UQ St. Lucia Campus

      Connectivity to Primary DC via 10Gbps private (AARNet) link

Townsville Data Centre

      JCU Townsville Campus

      Physically diverse, high capacity (10Gbps) access fibre to AARNet Network Access Points (NAPs) in Brisbane and Townsville supported by the AARNet 4 architecture

      Physically diverse, high capacity (10Gbps) access to:

      Node VPN (connecting all eight national primary and additional storage nodes; and

      the Internet

      A Science DMZ:

      Border Edge (BE) switches, to establish a "clean network path" for large scale data transfers;

      Data Transfer Nodes (DTNs), configured with application software tuned for large scale data transfers; and

      Performance monitoring and measurement appliances to monitor and report on network performance. 

 
[3] Science DMZ (S-DMZ) — The Science DMZ is a portion of an institution's network, built at or near the network perimeter, that is designed such that the equipment, configuration, and security policies are optimised for high-performance data-intensive applications rather than for general-purpose business systems or "enterprise" computing: http://fasterdata.es.net/science-dmz/   
 
 

 

Appendix B: QRIScloud Help Desk Service Levels

 

The QRIScloud Help Desk aims to meet or exceed the service levels targets defined in the following table.  

Incident Classification

Description

Response Time

Remedy

Priority 1

Business critical and high urgency.

A fault that results in a total inability for the client to conduct operational activities.

1 Business Hour

QCIF shall use all reasonable endeavours, within 4 Business Hours (or sooner if reasonably practicable), to remedy the fault, by providing either a work-around for the fault or a correction.

Priority 2

Business critical and standard urgency.

A fault that results in a partial inability for the client to conduct operational activities.

2 Business Hours

QCIF shall use all reasonable endeavours, within  1 Business Day (or sooner if reasonably practicable), to remedy the fault, by providing either a work-around for the fault or a correction.

Priority 3 (Default)

Non-Business critical and standard urgency.

A fault that results in a partial inability for the client and their users to use the Managed Hosting Services, but is not critical to overall operations.

4 Business Hours

QCIF shall use all reasonable endeavours, within 10 Business Days (or sooner if reasonably practicable), to remedy the fault, by providing either a work-around for the fault or a correction.

Priority 4

Service request.

Request for advice, information or additional services.

24 Business Hours

QCIF shall use all reasonable endeavours to schedule for this service request to be addressed within 20 Business Days.


Definitions

  • The client: The organisation that holds the Service Agreement with QCIF.
  • Business critical: Any function without which a business, or business unit, is not viable. A QCIF operated, or managed, resource or service is determined as business critical in a written agreement with the client. An end user (e.g. a researcher) cannot determine business criticality at the time of raising the incident with the QRIScloud Help Desk.
  • Response time: The time from raising the incident with QRIScloud until QRIScloud issues a non-automated response and identifies the action to be taken, either to remedy the situation, or to discover sufficient information to devise a remedy. 

 

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Appendix C: Service Level Agreement for Hosted Services
      

1.      Purpose of Service Level Agreement

This Service Level Agreement defines QCIF’s obligations to the client when providing Managed Hosting Services. It identifies the availability of the services provided, and the support mechanisms and response times where the services are not available or are not meeting the client’s quality expectations.

The Managed Hosting Services incorporates the QCIF operated QRIScloud server and data storage infrastructure, access to the infrastructure and system level administration of the services.

 

2.      Service Availability

The Managed Hosting Services will be made available on a 24 hours per day x 365 days per year basis with the exception of Scheduled Maintenance (as defined below).

System Administration Services are restricted to 9am to 5pm AEST (business hours) each business day excluding public holidays in Brisbane, Australia.

Outside of Scheduled Maintenance QCIF will use commercially reasonable efforts to make the Managed Hosting Services operating on QRIScloud available with a Monthly Uptime Percentage of at least 99.0%.

Monthly Uptime Percentage is the uptime of QCIF’s Data Centre Network, its virtual servers and data infrastructure, as a percentage of the month calculated from the agreed service availability of 24 hours per day x 365 days per year, minus any scheduled maintenance downtime.

Data Centre Network means the QCIF operated network from QCIF outbound ports to AARNet owned and operated network infrastructure. It also includes the storage network.

Network availability via AARNet network infrastructure is subject to continuation of AARNet links to the client’s premises and AARNet warranties to the client.

Service and network availability assurances exclude any external non-AARNet and non-University of Queensland network infrastructure (e.g. commercial networks).

 

3.      Scheduled Maintenance

Scheduled Maintenance is a planned maintenance period on any part of the QRIScloud infrastructure or the Managed Hosting Services that may disrupt the client’s normal business activities. The conduct of Scheduled Maintenance is necessary to ensure that QCIF is able to provide services to the client and to all other users of QRIScloud.

 

3.1           Notifications

All notifications of Scheduled Maintenance will be sent by email from the QRIScloud Service Desk to a nominated email account of the client.

 

3.2           Maintenance Windows

QCIF will reserve the period between 6am to 12pm (AEST) each Saturday as a Maintenance Window. This period is set aside as a reserved period in which QCIF will schedule maintenance activities. The client’s nominated contact will receive 72 hours’ notice whenever QCIF determines that the Managed Hosting Services will be unavailable during any Maintenance Window.


 

3.3           Emergency Maintenance

Emergency Maintenance is any planned maintenance period that is scheduled outside of the Maintenance Window in order to correct any issue that may impact upon QCIF’s ability to deliver services to its customers, or that may impact the client’s business operations. 

QCIF will seek to limit any down-time to the Managed Hosting Services outside of the Maintenance Window.

QCIF will seek to perform Emergency Maintenance outside of business hours, i.e. after 5pm and before 9am (AEST) weekdays.

QCIF will endeavour to provide the client’s nominated contact with 24 hours’ notice to confirm the Managed Hosting Services will be unavailable at the designated time for Emergency Maintenance.

QCIF’s adherence to this timing and notification of Emergency Maintenance will not affect the Service Availability target of 99.0%. Emergency Maintenance scheduled during business hours, and/or with less than 48 hours’ notice, will be counted against the Service Availability.


 

4.      Unscheduled Service Outages

Unscheduled Service Outages are incidents outside of Maintenance Windows and notified Emergency Maintenance that have the potential to disrupt the client’s Managed Hosting Services and reduce the service availability to the client and the client’s users.


4.1           Notifications

All notifications of Unscheduled Service Outages will be sent from the QRIScloud Service Desk by email to the client’s nominated email account.

 

4.2           Restoration of Services

QCIF’s response to an Unscheduled Services Outage will be in accordance with the assigned priority and remedied as per the Service Levels matrix in the QRIScloud Help Desk Service Levels (Appendix B).


 

5.      Service Support

5.1           Service Requests 

Service Requests are requests from the client for information or advice, or for additional or varied services to be provided to users of the Managed Hosting Services.

Service Requests must be within scope of the Managed Hosting Services otherwise a Request for Change (RFC) process will apply and additional charges may be incurred. The RFC process is managed by QCIF.

All Service Requests will be treated as Priority 4 in the Service Levels Matrix (see Appendix B) unless QCIF and the client agree otherwise in writing.

The client must log Service Requests initially via the QRIScloud Service Desk using the email address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. An automated response will provide a ticket number so that the client can track the progress of resolving the Service Request. 

 

5.2           Incident Management 

The scope of Incident Management includes any event or issue which disrupts, or could disrupt, the Managed Hosting Services.

The primary goal of Incident Management is to restore service as quickly as possible in the event of any disruption to service and to minimise the business impact of incidents. Priority 1 (incident priority levels are defined in Appendix B: QRIScloud Help Desk Service Levels) incidents (i.e. that have a critical impact on the client’s ability to conduct operational activities) can be reported to the QRIScloud Service Desk either via phone on 07 3346 4202 (during support hours identified in section 5.3 below), or via the email address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

All other priority level incidents are to be reported to the QRIScloud Service Desk via the email address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. An automated response will provide a ticket number for tracking the incident report.


 

5.3           Support Hours 

The QRIScloud Service Desk is staffed 9am to 5pm AEST (“Business Hours”) each Business Day excluding public holidays. 

Request for support logged via email to the QRIScloud Service Desk can be made at any time: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Response time is based on business hours elapsed.

Phone support is available during business hours by calling 07 3346 4202.

 

5.4           Access 

With regards to access to Linux based VM servers and subsequently to applications and file systems, application user authentication is the responsibility of the client.

 

6.      Security 

QCIF is responsible for applying security measures to the Hosting Services, including:

  • All critical or security related hotfixes to software within scope of the Managed Hosting Services to be applied within 8 weeks of release.
  • All Security Incidents to be investigated for root cause.
  • All Managed Hosting Service components have QCIF approved Anti-Virus + Anti-Spyware software installed and running with current engine and signatures.
  • Annual QCIF assessment of the security posture of the Managed Hosting Service.

The client is responsible for applying security measures to the application level software that is outside the scope of the Managed Hosting Services.


 

7.      Reporting 

QCIF will provide quarterly reports on the service identifying:

  • Summary of incidents/services requests logged with the help desk in the previous 3 months
  • Summary of Scheduled Maintenance outages
  • Summary of Unscheduled Service Outages

Performance against Monthly Uptime Percentage.

 

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Glossary: Service Level Agreement Definition of Terms

 

Business Day Every official working day of the week, i.e. Monday to Friday, excluding Saturday and Sunday and public holidays for the nominated jurisdiction.  

Data Centre Network The QCIF operated network from its outbound ports to AARNet owned and operated network infrastructure. It also includes the storage network.

Elastic Compute A QCIF service to provide additional VM server resources to a project, subject to advance notification and a QRIScloud Service Desk request.

Emergency Maintenance Any planned maintenance period that is scheduled outside of the Maintenance Window in order to correct any issue that may impact upon QCIF’s ability to deliver services to its customers, or that may impact the client’s business operations.

Incident Management The process of notification, logging, tracking, responding, resolving and closing of issues that are identified that disrupt, or have the potential to disrupt, the Managed Hosting Services.

Maintenance Window An agreed reserved period, usually outside of normal business hours, in which Scheduled Maintenance may be conducted.

Managed Hosting Services All services, including the QCIF operated QRIScloud server and data storage infrastructure, access to the infrastructure and system level administration of the services, that are provided by QCIF to the client, as identified in Schedule 1 of this Service Level Agreement

Monthly Uptime Percentage The uptime of QCIF’s Data Centre Network, its virtual servers and data infrastructure as a percentage of the month calculated from the agreed service availability of 24 hours per day x 365 days per year, minus any Scheduled Maintenance downtime.

NeCTAR Stands for National eResearch Collaboration Tools and Resources. NeCTAR provides online tools for accessing QRIScloud services such as the NeCTAR console.

QRIScloud Service Desk An operational unit of QCIF responsible for managing Service Requests and providing Incident Management.

Request for Change (RFC) A QCIF managed process initiated between QCIF and the client when a Service Request is determined to be outside of the scope of the agreed Managed Hosting Services.

Resource Allocation Charges The charges for the provisioning of QRIScloud infrastructure by QCIF to the client. This includes QRIScloud networks, virtual servers (VMs) and data storage.

Scheduled Maintenance A planned maintenance period on any part of the QRIScloud infrastructure or the Managed Hosting Services that may disrupt the client’s normal business activities.

Security Incident An externally driven event that is considered to compromise the integrity of QRIScloud, its networks and its data.

Service Requests Requests from the client for information or advice, or for additional or varied services to be provided to users of the Managed Hosting Services. Service Requests are lodged with the QRIScloud Service Desk.

System Administration Services Activities performed by a QCIF directed System Administrator to manage the infrastructure, systems and software that comprise the Managed Hosting Services.

Unscheduled Service Outages Incidents outside of Maintenance Windows and notified Emergency Maintenance that have the potential to disrupt Managed Hosting Services and reduce the service availability to the users of the Managed Hosting Services.

 

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About QRIScloud

QRIScloud is a large-scale cloud computing and data storage service.  It is aimed at stimulating and accelerating research use of computing across all disciplines. 

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QRIScloud @
QCIF Ltd
Axon building, 47
The University of Queensland
St Lucia, Qld, 4072

Contact us through the QRIScloud support desk, or email support@qriscloud.org.au

 

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