ARDC’s Nectar Research Cloud

Nectar was established in 2009 by the Australian Government as part of the Super Science initiative. Nectar was an NCRIS research infrastructure project until 2018, where it then amalgamated with the ANDS and RDS NCRIS projects to become the ARDC. NCRIS’s founding purpose for Nectar was to lower barriers to both research-led data processing and collaborative (between research organisations) workflows. An outcome of Nectar is the Research Cloud, a distributed research infrastructure providing Australia’s research community with fast & interactive access to computing infrastructure, software, and data.

That is – Nectar’s response to its mandate was to accelerate the adoption of cloud / cloud-nativeness, as the cloud paradigm strongly aligns with both data processing and collaboration. The Research Cloud introduced at scale to Australia, the “cloud age” of self-service. This allows researchers to store, access, and analyse their own data at any time, create dedicated virtual servers on demand, and collaborate with others from their desktop in a fast and efficient way. Today this seems a given, whereas ten years ago traditional HPC and enterprise ICT were the only broadly accessible options to the sector. The Research Cloud is seen as a pioneer globally.​

It has since grown to over 8000 concurrent instances / 50,000 concurrent virtual cores, over 18,000 unique users, 10 physical sites / 12 tenant organisations, and flavours tuned to both research need & effective bin-packing. Key to the Research Cloud’s success is the ambidextrous nature of site-specific hardware & business models, and Core Services as the establishment of OpenStack best-practices and the co-operation of those best-practices. 

​The Monash Node

In 2012 Monash successfully bid for a node to be hosted by Monash University. Our commitment was to push what is technically possible by ensuring the hardware reflected what researchers needed, rather than the technology push of the consumer market. Back in 2013 this was access to Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) for information rich desktops and High Performance Computing (HPC) interconnects to virtualise data-centric HPC. This led to many technological firsts, industry partnerships, and additional capacity injected by both Monash and RMIT.

In 2019 Monash successfully bid for a refresh of the Nectar capacity. Once again our commitment is to push what is technically possible. In particular adoption of Data Processing Units (DPUs) / SmartNICs for security.