26/08/2020

QCIF and Intersect are partnering to work on a $2.8 million project to refresh a national cloud computing network for research.  

QCIF and its New South Wales-based counterpart Intersect will provide new infrastructure for the Australian Research Data Commons’ (ARDC) Nectar Research Cloud.

ARDC’s investment of $1 million into the project will be matched by $1.8 million of operational co-investment from Intersect and QCIF over three years. 

The upgrades are being undertaken to ensure the Nectar Research Cloud continues to meet researchers’ demands for cloud resources.

The new infrastructure, due to be operational in early 2021, is expected to support approximately 10,000 virtual CPUs, along with increased volume and object storage. 

QCIF CEO John Bancroft is pleased Intersect and QCIF have partnered and secured this funding. “I am proud that together we can provide enhanced cloud compute resources for researchers across our combined membership until the end of 2023,” he said.

“We shall continue to look for opportunities to collaborate again in this way so we can further improve and extend the services we offer to all our members.”   

Intersect and QCIF will also trial a training program exchange next month and in October, opening up selected workshops to each other’s members.

For QCIF, the Nectar Research Cloud refresh will augment QRIScloud, its current cloud compute infrastructure, and replaces the capacities decommissioned during 2019 and 2020.

The Nectar Research Cloud, with QRIScloud as the Queensland node, provides flexible and scalable computing infrastructure and supporting core services to more than 18,000 Australian researchers. It enables researchers to store, access and analyse data remotely, rapidly and autonomously. Its self-service infrastructure allows fast, efficient desktop access to data and compute resources and a powerful platform for collaboration.

The new equipment will be deployed with existing QRIScloud infrastructure and operated collaboratively by Intersect and QCIF staff. It will be visible in the research cloud federation as separate Intersect and QRIScloud availability zones. 

The project is the final stage of funding and follows an earlier round of approvals for the capital refresh of the Nectar Research Cloud in late 2019. The total investment is $4.1 million, with matching co-investment from partner organisations the University of Melbourne, Monash University, and the Tasmanian Partnership for Advanced Computing (TPAC).

A significant proportion of the research cloud has reached the end of its useful life and needs to be replaced. In 2018, the Australian Government provided funding to support the continued delivery of compute resources to the research sector. 

ARDC is refreshing cloud compute and storage infrastructure to maintain the capacity required to meet the demand for cloud resources from nationally prioritised research activities.

This article is largely based on an ARDC announcement on 31 July 2020.