BEAR Cloud for Research

Cloud means many things to many different people. BEAR Cloud is an onsite private cloud operated as part of the wider BEAR service offering.

At the simplest level, BEAR Cloud is a powerful computing resource (dedicated to supporting computationally or data intensive research) that can be deployed flexibly and changed easily to meet evolving user needs. The entire infrastructure is housed on campus; a characteristic which is particularly important for those dealing with large datasets or sensitive data. It is also highly efficient and cost effective in comparison with current commercial cloud offerings.

Built with a major investment by the University (including part of a multi-million pound investment for Life Sciences) and using some innovative technology, Advanced Research Computing operates the underpinning infrastructure and base services. BEAR Cloud has been developed to support different types of workload to those operated on the BlueBEAR supercomputing facilities. Unlike many public cloud providers, the services we provide on BEAR Cloud don't over allocate CPU or memory, so when you get a CPU core, it's dedicated to your workload.

Our principle offering on BEAR Cloud is to provide high powered virtual machines running RedHat Linux and connected to the Research Data Store.

Who can use the service and is there a cost?

BEAR Cloud is available to any researchers across the University. We undertake a technical review of your requirements before providing access to ensure BEAR Cloud is the correct offering for you. All use of BEAR Cloud must be attached to a BEAR project

BEAR Cloud virtual machines, like all BEAR Premium resources, are usually paid-for options. To find out more about this service, including indicative pricing for the options that are available, please file an Other BEAR Request to let us know what you need and we will advise.

In exceptional circumstances you can apply to the Strategic Resource Allocation Group (SRAG) for free access to a premium resource, but you will be required to provide justification. SRAG is a sub-committee of the Research Computing Management Committee, and they will review your application.

What types of virtual machine can I get?

Our VM sizing is coded by colour and all our VMs run RedHat Linux.

We offer VMs for two purposes:

  1. Compute VMs: This is appropriate if you need access to high powered compute but your workload is not appropriate for our BlueBEAR supercomputer, either using batch jobs, BEAR Portal, or interactive jobs. All requests for compute VMs will have to justify why BlueBEAR is not appropriate.
  2. Web VMs: This is appropriate if you need to host a web application with specific requirements - such as needing to serve data hosted on the Research Data Store, submit compute jobs to BlueBEAR and serve their results, or run substantial background compute tasks on the VM and serve their results.

If you need "sudo" or "root" access, or access to GPUs, then BEAR Cloud is not the right solution as this is not possible on BEAR Cloud.

If you are not sure BEAR Cloud is the right solution for your needs, then please get in touch and we will help you find the right solution.

How does BEAR Cloud work?

BEAR Cloud uses the same hardware platform we have for other compute services but it is not part of BlueBEAR. Instead the BEAR Cloud systems use OpenStack, an open source private cloud set of software to run the service.