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Windows VMs can be launched on QRIScloud

8 November 2021

Researchers can now launch Windows virtual machines on QRIScloud, the Queensland node of the ARDC Nectar Research Cloud.

The new QCIF service enables researchers to use applications, to progress their research, that are only supported on a Windows operating system.

Dr Aaron Bach, a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Griffith University’s National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility and its Cities Research Institute, has been using the new service for his research for the last three weeks.

He is working on a project, funded by global charitable foundation Wellcome, tackling current and future heat stress exposure in ready-made garment factories in Bangladesh where workers face considerable heat stress.

“Access to the Windows VM provided by QRIScloud has allowed for faster and continuous simulations of industrial building energy models with various passive cooling solutions as an adaptation to climate change,” said Aaron.

“We have been able to optimise and validate our building model against field data collected in the Bangladeshi garment factories. The simulation process has sped up simulation times and freed up computing resources for other components of our project.”

QRIScloud Manager Stephen Bird said: “We are so pleased to deliver this capability that our Members’ researchers, from all domains, have been asking for. There are simply applications that researchers need to use that only run in a Windows environment.”

Researchers first requested the service through QCIF’s annual user surveys.

For almost a year, QCIF has been working with Microsoft and its Service Provider License Agreement (SPLA) resellers to enable Windows VMs to be launched on QRIScloud.

The need to support Windows VMs on QRIScloud was further expedited due to the Secure eResearch Platform (SeRP) project, as it is only supported on Windows.

The SeRP project is a national collaboration to deliver a secure, trusted and scalable environment for sensitive data sharing, governance, control and management services for researchers. 

Researchers should note there are a couple of extra steps needed to enable the QRIScloud Windows VM service for a Nectar-supported project.

Firstly, the QRIScloud team needs to enable access to a custom flavour (16 vCPUs, 32 GB RAM, 100 GB disk) that can support a Windows Server operating system and a private Windows Server 2022 image. 

Secondly, the Nectar-supported project’s tenant manager needs to run an OpenStack command from the command line (ARDC has a tutorial to help with setting this up) to accept access to the private Windows Server 2022 image.

These steps are required for QCIF to meet its Microsoft licensing and reporting obligations. 

If you are a Queensland researcher who would like more information about using Windows VMs via QRIScloud, please contact the QRIScloud Help Desk.

In other QRIScloud news, high-end graphics processing unit (GPU) nodes are now online and available to the ARDC-funded national software platforms that requested them, that is: the Environments to Accelerate Machine Learning-Based Discovery project, which features The University of Queensland and Monash University as partners; the Monash-led Australian Characterisation Commons at Scale project; and the Griffith University-led FishID project.

“Preliminary tests by the FishID research project shows the specialised compute resources to be at least two times faster for their workloads compared to what they can currently do on Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform,” said Stephen.

Read our previous article about the additional infrastructure to support ARDC’s research platform projects.

In further computing news, read ARDC’s update about the Nectar Research Cloud.

Photo: A garment worker on a production line of a clothing plant in Bangladesh. (Photo by Marcel Crozet / Bangladesh 34 by ILO PHOTOS NEWS is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.)

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