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OwnTime Cloud Computing

What is OwnTime cloud computing?

Exclusive to Intersect Australia, OwnTime Cloud computing offers access to high performance virtual hardware for computer intensive applications - up to 64 Cores and as much as 1000GB of memory.

OwnTime supports several operating systems, a range of virtual configurations, and provides a large number of pre-built images that can be used as the basis for their own Virtual Machines (VMs), without having to configure the entire system. 

Who can access OwnTime cloud computing?

Researchers at Australian universities and other organisations that are part of the Australian Access Federation (AAF) can use their own credentials to access OwnTime. We can also set up credentials for non-AAF customers; ask us at Time@intersect.org.au to explore options.   

‚ÄčOperating systems available for OwnTime virtual machines as standard include: 

  • CentOS 6 x86_64
  • CentOS 7 x86_64
  • Ubuntu 14.04 (Trusty Tahr) AMD64
  • Ubuntu 15.04 (Vivid Vervet) AMD64
  • Scientific Linux 6.5 x86_64
  • OpenSuSE 31.2 x86_64

If you are using another operating system not listed here, please ask us about it at Time@intersect.org.au. We can usually be flexible, although extra charges might apply.

 

How do I access OwnTime?

Step 1: Create a Time Plan
 

A Time Plan is an agreement between you and Intersect whereby you specify the maximum dimensions of all VMs that you wish to have active at any one time and agree to the terms and conditions of use. You only pay for VMs you create, and you have the control to create and delete VMs.

To create your Time Plan, go to https://intersect.service-now.com/ess/Time+Products and  select OwnTime.  You can then complete the following details if known, otherwise contact help.intersect.org.au for assistance before completing the form:

  • Your organisation
  • CPU Upper Limit (Cores)
  • RAM Upper Limit (Cores)
  • Attached Disk (GB).

There is no need to fill in any other fields.  

It may take a few hours for your Time Plan to be authorised and registered.  You will then receive an email notification when that is complete. Your TimePlan will be identified with a ‘TPLAN’ code”.


Step 2: Create your Virtual Machines
 

Once your Time Plan is complete, there are two ways that you can create and administer VMs.  

Step 2a: Using Launchpod

Launchpod is a tool to deploy VMs within the Intersect cloud computing environment with one of a number of preconfigured research-based software applications.  You should use Launchpod if you need to use one of these applications.  Launchpod is designed like a wizard; it will take care of the technical aspects of spawning a VM by asking you some details.

For more details on how to use Launchpod and which research applications are available, see http://intersect.org.au/content/launchpod

Step 2b: Using the NeCTAR Dashboard

For experienced Linux users, login to the Nectar Dashboard using your AAF credentials. Once logged in, you will see a Dashboard with your project(s) including your TimePlans (identified with a ‘TPLAN’ code).  Building a VM, is done through the Dashboard:

  • Select “Instances” from the left hand panel; all currently active VMs in your Time Plan will be shown.
  • To launch a new VM select “Launch Instance” - situated towards the top and right of the screen.  A wizard will guide you through the process..  

 

Other users should contact Intersect at enquiries@intersect.org.au for assistance.

What else do I need to know? 

There are a number of important pieces of information relating to NeCTAR VMs, including the size of the instance, storage options, access and security, and reliability.

1. VM size options

There are several ‘flavours’ of instance available, differentiated by number of CPUs, amount of RAM and disk. The flavours are outlined here.
For more advice on the most appropriate flavour, contact us at enquiries@intersect.org.au for assistance.


2. Storage options

OwnTime flavours come with a small amount of directly attached disk storage (see here) referred to as ‘Ephemeral disks’. Data on Ephemeral disks exists only as long as the VM remains active. This will be deleted when the instance is deleted.  

If you require persistent storage, Intersect offers Space storage solutions, please refer to http://www.intersect.org.au/content/space-big-storage.  
For more information about managing your Space storage, contact Intersect at enquiries@intersect.org.au for assistance.

3. Access to VMs

In order to connect to and work on your VM, you will need to configure security groups (firewall rules) that enable traffic through certain ports for different kinds of access. The following is provided to help you in discussions with your local IT group who may need to open ports in order for you to access your VMs.  

The default security groups for TimePlans are:

  • SSH (Secure Shell) opens tcp port 22 to traffic from all sources (for logging in via ssh).
  • HTTP opens tcp ports 80 and 443 to traffic from all sources (for web servers).
  • ICMP opens all ICMP traffic from all sources (to allow pinging your VMs IP address).

See the NeCTAR Security Groups technical guide for assistance.  

To access your VM over SSH, you will also need to use a SSH keypair. A keypair works like a lock and key and means that you do not need a password to log in, as long as you have your private half of the key pair (the key), and the server has the public half of the key pair (the lock). SSH keypairs are very secure, as you never transmit a password over the web to log into the server.

Keypairs can be generated using the NeCTAR Dashboard in the ‘access and security’ tab. When you have generated a keypair, the public key will be written to the VM, and the private key will be available for you to download and place in your .ssh directory. You will then need to configure your machine to use it to connect to the VM. If you already have a keypair or if you create one on your own machine, you may upload your public key to the Dashboard. Once you have a keypair in your NeCTAR account, you will be able to use the public key for any instance you build, and the private key on any machine you wish to connect from.

You must create/upload your keys prior to launching a VM, otherwise NeCTAR will be unable to write the public key into the .ssh directory of the VM. You will also be unable to connect from any client device. For assistance in creating and using SSH keypairs, see the SSH keypairs technical guide.

4. Reaching your quota

When your TimePlan resource quota has been reached, an email will be sent to you, warning that you have reached your quota. If you intend to increase your allocation, you will need to adjust your TimePlan. To do this, please contact Intersect at enquiries@intersect.org.au for assistance.

5. Reliability of OwnTime services

Please be aware that the hardware in cloud computing can be susceptible to power outages, scheduled downtime and other events. These may affect your TimePlan allocations. You should manage regular back-ups of your data to avoid any data loss.  

What costs are involved?

OwnTime Cloud computing is charged on a consiumption basis.  Pricing is available here.