In this course we will introduce cloud computing, how it can benefit your research and how you can get started with using the cloud for your research.

This course is structured in 10 separate Modules which are largely independent of each other. Depending on your existing level of expertise, you may select the Modules which discuss the relevant topics you want to learn about. Where relevant, references to other modules are given in order to point you to other modules where you can find more information about a certain topic.

The modules are structured as follows:

  • Module 1: Overview of cloud computing and the Nectar services In this module you will learn what cloud computing is, what types of services NeCTAR offers, and how cloud computing may benefit your research.

  • Module 2: Virtual Laboratories and eResearch Tools This module provides an overview of the eResearch Tools and the Virtual Laboratories that are offered by NeCTAR services. Both the tools and the virtual labs offer “ready to go” tools you may use.

  • Module 3: Use Cases Aside from tools which are ready to use for you on the NeCTAR cloud (discussed in Module 2), you may also utilize a service which you can configure more individually: You may set up own virtual machine on the NeCTAR Research Cloud. This module discusses common use cases for the NeCTAR Research Cloud and the research outcomes they can enable.

  • Module 4: From PC to Cloud or HPC You may have heard of “High Performance Computing” (HPC), or you may already be using it. This module will discuss the differences between Cloud Computing and HPC, and provide an overview of pros and cons of moving from traditional desktop computing to Cloud or HPC infrastructure.

  • Module 5: The Research Cloud lifecycle This module provides a high level overview of the end-to-end lifecycle of using the cloud. You will learn how to get onto the research cloud; how the merit allocation process works, and how to get support. You will get an overview of how to track utilisation; necessary housekeeping you will need to do (e.g. updates, backups); how to terminate your services without losing anything, and how to mitigate risks.

  • Module 6: Resource requirements for computing and storage In this module we will discuss factors which help you determine the amount of resources (computing and storage) you require. We will take a look at the different types of storage that are available to you, which will help you decide which type is most suitable for your research purposes.

  • Module 7: Launching and Connecting After having learned about the NeCTAR Research Cloud and the services it provides, it is now time to get some hands-on experience. This module delivers a tutorial on how you can create and launch your own virtual machine, how you can connect to it and how you can attach your storage.

  • Module 8: Security This module provides an introduction to key security issues, dangers and consequences when running a virtual machine in the cloud. Practical advice for making your machine secure and preventing it from being hacked. An introduction to data encryption including usage of a variety of tools is also given.

  • Module 9: Backing up and packing up In this module we will discuss backup strategies for when things do go wrong. You will learn how to make snapshots and how to recover your virtual machine using this snapshot. You will also learn how to backup your data and how to terminate your virtual machine without losing anything.

  • Module 10: Beyond the Dashboard This last module provides an overview of the OpenStack command line tools — how to configure them to interact with the cloud. This module is designed for advanced users who want to learn more about command line tools to control the NeCTAR resources. This can help to automate procedures, for example with scripts for backup processes. Worked examples of the OpenStack command line tool openstack are included in this Module.