Monash University expands cloud infrastructure to support researchers

Monash University expands cloud infrastructure to support researchers

Cloud allows researchers to have their own ‘21st century microscope’

Monash University has deployed Mellanox's CloudX Platform – which includes remote direct memory access (RDMA) capable Ethernet technology – for its R@CMon cloud, which is part of the National eResearch Collaboration Tools and Resources (NeCTAR) Project.

NeCTAR is a government initiative to develop computing infrastructure for Australian researchers. R@CMon received $4.5 million funding from both Monash University and federal government.

The storage side of the project is currently being built and will integrate Ceph and Lustre technology.

The CIO’s office (eSolutions) played a key role in the expansion of the cloud infrastructure for Monash’s e-research department. CIO Ian Tebbett left the university mid December to return to the UK, and Richard Palmer has been appointed acting CIO.

“The CIO’s office has been very liberal at partnering with the various parts of the university to deliver the best for the business,” said Steve Quenette, deputy director of the Monash eResearch Centre.

“It’s this idea of a 21st century microscope. It’s really what a researcher needs to build for him or herself nowadays; they need to integrate pieces of technology, instruments, data, and all those sorts of things to create the analysis that allows them to view through their own lens the data and information they need to see through their own research.”

Besides offering high bandwidth and low latency, Quenette said the cloud platform also enables an ‘application defined back-planning’ environment, where researchers can orchestrate the cloud to suit their own needs.

Before deploying the cloud platform, Monash University found it difficult to deal with peak research activities and high IOPS (input/output operations per second). Monash's research activities account for about 5 petabytes of usable disk storage, so researchers can analyse and disseminate data. The university supports 317 continually growing research projects, with each project having up to 100 researchers working on it.

Being able to employ the open source OpenStack IaaS software with CloudX is what also made the platform attractive, Quenette said.

“We hope to eventually drive the entire environment through OpenStack... That crosses the virtualization of compute and storage elements, but also eventually the virtualization of networking and other such matters. We will be able to include software-defined networking in that environment.”

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