Welcome to the Nectar Cloud knowledge base. Browse or search our user documentation, and if you can't find what you're looking for contact our support team by either raising a ticket, or by sending an email to support@nectar.org.au, or finally, by giving us a call: 1300 080 431.

What is the Nectar Cloud

Nectar (National eResearch Collaboration Tools and Resources) is an Australian Government project funded to build new infrastructure specifically for the needs of Australian researchers. The Nectar Cloud provides supported computing infrastructure, giving researchers access to computing resources without the need to purchase or host their own hardware.
All Australian researchers have access to the Nectar Cloud via the AAF.

To access the Cloud, all users must first login through the Nectar Cloud dashboard: https://dashboard.rc.nectar.org.au/

Instances

An “instance” running inside the Research Cloud is just like real-life machine but in a remote location. The Research Cloud is used to start, copy and delete instances. They have an operating system (you select it from a list), network access (a real IP address & you specify any access), and hard disk storage. With no hardware to maintain, you can copy (Snapshot) and customise new machines rapidly.

Tools

The Nectar Cloud Dashboard

The Dashboard provides a web interface to get all the basic Research Cloud-related jobs done.

Use the dashboard:

  • for basic Cloud operations: (launching, duplicating & terminating ) instances;
  • to get Credentials you can use with other API clients;
  • to make an allocation request for a larger ongoing share of Research Cloud Resources.

More about instances

If you are familiar with connecting to remote machines already, the same tools and techniques apply when connecting to running instances. Your instance has a public IP address and, if appropriately configured, can be reached and controlled with any remote access tools you wish to use. For example, SSH.

More information about launching and managing instances is here

Images

Instances originate from Images and can be a plain "off-the-shelf" Operating System or can include software packages and config changes to suit a particular purpose (e.g.: serving web pages). There are publicly available images in the cloud ready for you to use.

To suit your specific purposes, an instance may need some customisation, configuration changes or software installation. It’s a good idea to make a copy of the instance if you wish to re-use its current state as a starting point for new instances. If you are experimenting and making changes, a copy allows you to return to the copied state and dispose of the experiment without having to undo/redo configuration changes.

You can create an Image from scratch, but usually it’s easier to customise and copy a running instance that is close to what you need.

Copies of instances are called Snapshots and can be used like other Images to start new instances. Making a Snapshot is simple:

  1. Go to the Dashboard "Instances" tab;
  2. Click "Create Snapshot" for the running instance you wish to copy.

Key Pairs

Key pairs enable you to communicate with your instance via SSH. When launching an instance, you specify an existing key pair. The public key is injected into the running instance's authorized_keys file.

You can manage your key pairs through the Dashboard or via the nova CLI client.

In the dashboard under the Access & Security tab you can manage your keys. You have the option of:

  • Importing an existing SSH key that you already own;
  • Creating a new SSH Key.

Important: Key pairs can only be specified on instance creation, if you don't specify a keypair on creation you will not be able to add it later.

Security groups

Incoming network access to your Cloud machines is usually required. Security Groups are how to add network access. If you can't reach your instance by SSH to login, or by browser if it runs a web server, additional Security Group settings could be needed.

The OpenStack article title "Security Groups" gives more information.

Storage in the cloud

The NeCTAR Research Cloud provides instances for research use. While resources such as processing cores, RAM and the amount of storage you get are dedicated to a particular instance, other resources such as the network and the underlying storage system are shared among instances. Furthermore, not all storage is created equal; the Research Cloud offers:

You can decide which suits your needs best by reading the OpenStack article titled "Storage Decisions"