Section 1: General Questions

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Section 1: General Questions

Q1.1 - What is QCIF?

QCIF stands for the Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation. QCIF is a joint venture between Queensland universities to efficiently provide common value-added computing resources to its members and customers. QCIF also works with the Queensland Government and private industry. For more information, refer to the QCIF website and the QRIScloud Portal

Q1.2 - What is QRIScloud?

QRIScloud is a set of services provided by QCIF for research groups and agencies to create, process and use their data.

QRIScloud offers two primary services: data storage and cloud computing:

  • The data storage services include the Queensland RDSI node, which provides storage for data collections of national significance.
  • The cloud computing component includes the Queensland NeCTAR node, which provides national computing resources for the research sector.

 The current portfolio of services is described in the QRIScloud Services Catalog in the QRIScloud Portal.

Q1.2.1 - What is QRISdata?

QRISdata is the name for QRIScloud's data storage services.  We will consider storage requests in the range of a few tens of gigabytes up to petabytes, subject to (RDSI) merit assessment and to availability.

QRISdata data storage is managed storage. It provides a more reliable place to store research data than USB drives and portable hard disks. QRIScloud is designed to complement well-managed data storage provided by your institution. It provides a platform for storing and sharing data, to encourage research collaboration and to meet data publication needs.

For more details on QRISdata services, and how to apply for them, please refer to this section of the QRIScloud Services Catalog, and Section 3 of these FAQs.

Q1.2.2 - What is QRIScompute?

QRIScompute is the name for QRIScloud's computation services.  It includes the QCIF operated component of the NeCTAR Research Cloud, and various HPC facilities. 

For more details on QRIScompute services, and how to apply for them, please refer to this section of the QRIScloud Services Catalog, and Section 4 of these FAQs.

Q1.2.3 - Who can use QRIScloud resources?

QRIScloud is available to Australian academic researchers, government and industry customers.

  • QRIScloud hosted NeCTAR and RDSI resources are available to any Australian academic researcher, subject to merit assessment.
  • Access to other QRIScloud resources (e.g. Flashlite & Euramoo) may be restricted to researchers in QCIF member institutions.
  • Potential government and Industry customers should contact Gavin Kennedy, QCIF's Outreach and Engineering Manager.

Q1.2.4 - What is the QRIScloud Portal?

The QRIScloud Portal is the main "front door" for finding out about and requesting QRIScloud services. It is also the place to go for documentation and user support.

Before you request services, you will need to register an account and provide some contact details.  Note that the QRIScloud portal uses AAF to authenticate you; see Q1.5 (etc) below.

Q1.2.5 - How do I register a QRIScloud Portal account?

  1. Visit the QRIScloud Portal home page.
  2. Click on the BIG RED "Account" BUTTON.
  3. That takes you to a page that says "Please click the login button below". Assuming that you are a member or affiliate on an Australian University, just do what it says: click the BIG ORANGE "Login" BUTTON.
  4. Perform the AAF login via your home organization:
    1. Select your Organization from the drop-down menu.
      • If you have been provided with a VHO account, select "AAF Virtual Home" as your organization.
    2. Click on the BIG BLUE "Continue to your organization" BUTTON.
    3. You should now be sent to your Organization's AAF login page.  It is wise to check the following:
      • The page should have your institution's branding on it.
      • The page's URL should be within your institution's registered domain.
      • Your browser should show the standard indication that your connection to the page is secure.
      • If any of the above is not true ... be suspicious.  (You don't want to become a victim of phishing and have your credentials stolen!)
    4. Enter your institutional account name and password where indicated on your Organization's AAF login page.
      • If your organization has provided you with both "staff" and "student" accounts, please use the staff account. This avoids hassle down the track for people whose status changes.  (And for UQ, it is a hard requirement mandated by UQ RCC that staff accounts must be used.)
    5. When AAF login asks for permission to release some user details to us (QRIScloud), say yes.  (If you don't, we can't register you.)
  5. If you don't already have an account, you will be returned to the QRIScloud Account Registration page:
    • Fill in the registration form, giving as many details as you can.
    • Submit the form. 
    • If you get an email from the QRIScloud Support ticketing system, asking you to verify the account, please do that.
    • Finally, you should get a "Welcome to QRIScloud" email.

Q1.2.6 - What are QSAC credentials?

QSAC is short for QRIScloud Service Access Credential.  Your QSAC is a username / password pair that can be used to access various QRIScloud services.  The QSAC is the primary authentication mechanism that we use for services that are not AAF enabled.

Q1.2.7 - How do I get my QSAC?

You generate QSAC credentials by logging into the QRIScloud Portal and going to the "MyCredentials" page.  There you can see your QSAC username and generate / reset your QSAC password. If you forget your password, you can generate a new one here too.

Q1.2.8 - Can I use my Organization account and passwords instead of my QSAC?

If you are a UQ staff member, student or affiliate, you can use your UQ username and password as an alternative for your QSAC for logging into the following QRIScloud services:

  • Euramoo and Flashlite
  • Standard access collection services (apart from Aspera)

Note that this only works for UQ users whose QSAC account name is the same their UQ account name.

Q1.3 - What is NeCTAR?

NeCTAR (the National eResearch Collaboration Tools and Resources) project is a federally funded initiative that "aims to enhance research collaboration and research outcomes by providing Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure". NeCTAR partly funds the NeCTAR Research Cloud and also supports the National Server Program (NSP) and a number of Virtual Laboratory (VL) projects.  The NeCTAR website is here.

Q1.3.1 - What is the NeCTAR Research Cloud?

The NeCTAR Research Cloud (RC) is a federated cloud computing facility that consists of "cells" running in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.  There are over 20,000 "cores" in the entire federation.  Access to NeCTAR RC resource is merit based; this FAQ explains how to apply.

Q1.3.2 - What is a NeCTAR Virtual Laboratory?

NeCTAR Virtual Laboratory (VL) projects allow researchers in a particular domain to "bring their data" to a virtual laboratory where there are software tools and computational resources for processing, analyzing, visualizing and collaborating.  For more information on NeCTAR virtual laboratories program, please refer to this page.

Q1.3.3 - What is the NeCTAR National Server Program?

The National Server Program (NSP) currently provides robust hosting of critical eResearch services.  The following is taken from the NSP website:

In 2015 the NeCTAR program and partners carefully considered the future of the National Servers Program (NSP) under NeCTAR research platforms program. After much deliberation, in March 2016 a decision was reached that the NSP service will be devolved to services operated directly by the NeCTAR Nodes. The new NSP operators will establish services at several new locations to support national research.

QCIF is currently implementing a local NSP replacement service, with the aim of having existing Queensland-based NSP users migrated before the NSP closure.  Technical details and availability for new users will be announced later this year.

Q1.4 - What is RDSI?

 The Research Data Storage Infrastructure project is a federally funded initiative that aims to provide researchers with infrastructure for storing and managing significant collections of research data. It has partly funded the purchase and operation of storage and networking infrastructure at a number of nodes, and the provision of software for collection management and data transfer.

The RDSI project officially completed at the end of the 2014/`15 financial year, but all of the  infrastructure purchased and set up under RDSI continues to be run by the existing node operators, including QCIF.

Q1.4.1 - What is RDS?

The Research Data Services project is the successor to RDSI.  The RDS Project Overview describes the project's goals and its relationship to RDSI.

Q1.5 - What is AAF?

The Australian Access Federation (AAF) provides a common user authentication service that allows you to "log in" to various services and websites using your University user-name and password.

Q1.5.1 - My organization is not an AAF member.  What do I do?

QCIF can provide an AAF-enabled login for users who cannot get AAF access via their home organization.  This login will be with the AAF "Virtual Home Organization" (VHO)

Q1.5.2 - What are the criteria for providing QCIF AAF credentials?

The criteria are:

  • You cannot get AAF access through your organization. (It is a requirement of the AAF that we avoid creating multiple identities for people.  If your organization (e.g. university) is an AAF member, you must get AAF access through them.)
  • You are either a member of a QRIScloud hosted project, or you have a genuine requirement to collaborate with a QRIScloud hosted project. In either case, we will need to verify this with the project's designated manager.
  • We need to be able to establish your identity with sufficient confidence.  This typically requires an email account at your place of work.

Q1.5.3 - Do QCIF AAF credentials allow me to use Eduroam?

No.  It doesn't work.  The issue is that the AAF VHO (where the QCIF AAF accounts are registered) is not an identity provider in the Eduroam federation.

Q1.5.4 - When and how do I do an AAF login?

You will need to do an AAF login when you use certain services that are AAF enabled. For example, you will be prompted to do an AAF login when:

While the details vary depending on the service, the procedure is similar in each case:

  1. You are presented with a page with the AAF logo on it and a login button.
  2. Next, your browser will load a page that asks you to select your home organisation.  Select your University (etc) from the menu.  (If you have a QCIF-provided AAF account, use the "AAF Virtual Home Organization" as your organisation.)
  3. Next you browser will load your home organisation's AAF login page.  Enter the user name and password provided by your home organisation.
  4. Next you may see a page asking you for permission to release AAF attributes.  You need to agree to that.
  5. Finally, your browser will load a page on the service that you were trying to use.

Q1.5.5 - How do I tell AAF to "forget" my home organization?

In step 2 of the AAF login procedure (see Q1.5.4) you have the option of "remembering" your home organization so that you don't have to select it each time you login.  But what if you need to change the home organization?

  • AAF have a service that you can use to "forget" the remembered organization: https://ds.aaf.edu.au/discovery
  • It is also possible to do the same thing by deleting the relevant cookies from your browser's cookie store.

Q1.6 - What is ANDS?

The Australian National Data Service (ANDS) is a project that focuses on management and discoverability of research data. Among other things, ANDS runs the Research Data Australia site.

Q1.7 - What is NCRIS

The National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) is the Australian Commonwealth Government program under which major research infrastructure projects are funded.  NeCTAR, RDSI / RDS, AAF and ANDS are all NCRIS-funded projects.

Q1.8 - What is QRIScloud Support?

We are the team who provide "front line" user support for QRIScloud services.  We deal with requests for resources, and service delivery and and can assist with advice and trouble shooting.

Q1.8.1 - What does QRIScloud Support support?

We provide primary support for:

  • QRIScompute services,
  • QRISdata services, and
  • QCIF "managed service" customers.

We are also part of the NeCTAR support network.

Q1.9 - Where is QRIScloud?

QCIF and partner organizations (UQ and JCU) run QRIScloud facilities in Brisbane and Townsville.

Q1.9.1 - What are Polaris, DC1 and DC2?

The Polaris data centre (in Springfield, Brisbane) houses most of the QRIScloud compute and storage infrastructure. In the NeCTAR RC world, Polaris corresponds to the "QRIScloud" availability zone.

DC1 and DC2 are older data centres in the St Lucia campus of UQ.  DC2 used to house the "Stage 1" NeCTAR and RDSI infrastructure, but this equipment was moved to Polaris in late 2014 / early 2015.  DC1 houses the tape stores that hold off-site replicas for the Polaris storage systems.

Q1.9.2 - Where is QRIScloud Townsville?

QRIScloud Townsville only provides storage and not cloud computing or HPC.  The QRIScloud Townsville systems are housed in the JCU data centres.

Q1.10 - Can QRIScloud handle confidential information?

This question is complicated, and can only be answered on a case by case basis.  But at this point in time, the answer is most likely to be "No" if personally identifiable data on human subjects is involved.

Q1.11 - Who manages my QRIScloud resources?

Normal QRIScloud services provide you with "unmanaged" resources.

While QCIF operations looks after the cloud storage and computing infrastructure and the provisioning of your QRIScloud resources, it is up to you to ensure that you use the resources effectively, and in a way that protects your data and your investment of effort adequately.

If you specifically need managed services, please contact Gavin Kennedy, QCIF's Outreach and Engineering Manager to discuss your requirements. (Note that management of your resources is  not something that we can provide to researchers for free.)

Q1.11.1 - Who creates and manages my virtual machines?

In most cases, this is your responsibility. If you have local IT support who are willing to take this on, you can delegate responsibility to them.

Q1.11.2 - Can you administer my virtual machines for me?

If you need this level of service, please contact Gavin Kennedy; see above.

Q1.11.3 - Can you install and configure software for me?

If you need this level of service, please contact Gavin Kennedy; see above.  Alternatively, you could investigate using one of the QRIScompute HPC systems, which may have the software pre-installed.

Q1.11.4 - Can you look after backups & security for me?

If you need this level of service, please contact Gavin Kennedy; see above.

Q1.12 - Should I acknowledge QCIF / QRIScloud in publications?

Yes you should.  If QRIScloud resources or services were used to enable, assist, or facilitate research output, it is a condition of use to acknowledge QCIF in any related publications.

For a general acknowledgement of QCIF:

"This research was undertaken with the assistance of resources from QCIF (http://www.qcif.edu.au)."

For acknowledgement of NeCTAR resources (in QRIScloud):

"This research was supported by use of the NeCTAR Research Cloud and by QCIF(http://www.qcif.edu.au). The NeCTAR Research Cloud is a collaborative Australian research platform supported by the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy."

If Flashlite was used, add:

"FlashLite was supported by ARC LIEF grant LE140100061, The University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology, Griffith University, Monash University, University of Technology Sydney, and The Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation."

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