Share Tweet EcoCloud: one of three new Australian Science Clouds

Open access to free, domain-specific, cloud-based research tools, virtual laboratories and platforms via a single interface that links multiple data sources and service providers is set to be delivered thanks to a new national e-research infrastructure investment: The Australian Science Clouds.  Learn more about the clouds and help TERN further tailor the Australian Ecosystem Science Cloud to meet your needs.

Six of Australia’s national research infrastructure investments, including TERN, have come together to provide a new, exciting e-research platform to support Australian ecological research: The Australian Science Clouds.

Thanks to Federal Government investment via the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) three new science clouds are in development:

Establishment of the Australian Science Clouds will ensure that research communities have improved access to shared data, tools, platforms and computing resources according to each community’s domain-specific needs.

Associate Professor Glenn Moloney, the director of The National eResearch Collaboration Tools and Resources project (Nectar) who lead the clouds’ development, says that users are set to benefit from the efficiencies of leveraging a common underlying e-research cloud platform, and from the in-built knowledge sharing platforms that will support research-industry collaboration.

“The Australian Science Clouds are a key investment in the research landscape with incredible potential for increased impact in the areas of collaboration and sustainability for Australian researchers and their global collaborators,” says Glenn.

EcoCloud lets scientists focus on science without IT overheads

TERN is playing a lead role in the development of the Australian Ecosystem Science Cloud (EcoCloud), which will provide the ecosystem science community with more effective access to ecosystem research data, a computing platform and resources and tools for innovative research.

“EcoCloud is enabling researchers to interrogate national ecosystems datasets on a nationally accessible platform supporting their data science needs” says Glenn.  
“Environmental science researchers can just come and do research with their own data, in addition to existing data collections already on the platform.  This enables researchers to concentrate on the science without the overhead of dealing with complex IT systems.”

“EcoCloud lets scientists focus on being scientists, rather than up-skilling with IT skills and other peripheral activities to support their research.”

EcoCloud will assist in providing seamless access to data residing in different portals across multiple interfaces and allow users to search, access and analyse data using a selection of popular cloud-based tools.

Tools and platforms that will be available on EcoCloud include RStudio Server, Jupyter Notebook and the TERN-developed Collaborative Environment for Scholarly Research and Analysis (CoESRA) virtual desktop environment.

CoESRA is a free virtual desktop environment that gives researchers a portable and powerful computational environment to run experiments and share their works. It provides popular tools like RStudio, Canopy (IDE for python and Notebook), Kepler Scientific Workflow, KNIME, QGIS, Panoply and OpenRefine to enable users to create, execute and share data simulations, visualisation, scripts and algorithms.

Once a specific analysis is conducted, the entire process chain can be stored and shared with other scientists, which improves the reproducibility, repeatability and transparency of research outcomes.

Developing cloud solutions that meet your needs: your input required

EcoCloud is currently in development, but the tools and platforms are currently online and open for feedback.  User feedback is vital to the project, which commenced in early 2016 based on the requirements collected from across the ecosystems science community.

To ensure the cloud continues to create solutions that meet your needs, we encourage you to take a look at the prototype EcoCloud and submit feedback via the online form. Currently, RStudio, Jupyter Notebook and a virtual desktop platform are available; data platforms will be made accessible soon.

  • The Science Clouds will build upon the existing Research Cloud and Virtual Laboratories provided by Nectar, the national data storage services provided by Research Data Services (RDS) and streamlined access to major data collections hosted by the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI), Bioplatforms Australia (BPA), Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) and TERN. The domain-relevant NCRIS Facilities provide leadership and coordination in prioritising and deploying tools and platforms on behalf of their research communities, with the Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation (QCIF) providing implementation support for EcoCloud.
  • For more information on the EcoCould please visit, contact Dr Nigel Ward, Project Manager & QCIF eResearch Manager or TERN’s Dr Siddeswara Guru, the TERN Data Science Director and Lead Technical Architect of the Australian Ecosystem Science Cloud.
  • CoESRA is available now and can be accessed by logging into the CoESRA website using an Australian Access Federation (AAF) username and password.
  • TERN would like to thank Loretta Davis for her contributions to this article.

Published in TERN newsletter August 2017

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