Centre for eResearch

Virtual machine (VM) farm

The Virtual Machine (VM) Farm is located at the Tamaki Data Centre of the University of Auckland. In collaboration with IT Services, the Centre for eResearch provides support for the hosting of dedicated hardware. The service has resulted in consolidation of departmental servers that were originally run locally into a more organised and centrally managed system.

Many researchers need specialised computing facilities that support a variety of different operating systems, allow interactive use (rather than relying on a typical HPC batch scheduler), run for extended periods of time (months), and provide externally facing services via the Web (forexample, research collaboration). The Centre for eResearch supports the user-facing configuration, research software installation and development. ITS host the hardware in a managed VM Farm and provide the networking. Together, the combined expertise helps researchers make the best usage of these systems.

There are a number of advantages for researchers of using VMs. In contrast to the Pan cluster, the VMs enable Windows-only software running on large memory machines. They provide a stable environment for very long running jobs. VMs can also be check-pointed at any time. When the machine or the software crashes, the researcher can easily resume the computation from the last check point.

Currently, researchers request access to Research VM resources through the Centre‚Äôs support team. The service is already in heavy use. We currently supports over 90 research-focussed VMs and projects with diversed applications across several faculties and institutes. The Centre has started a project to include the design and implementation of a dedicated VM cluster to support specialised, research-focussed, virtualised support for (computationally aspirational) research application. In the coming year, the Centre will focus on strengthening and maturing the service in order to accommodate more researchers and a growing range of platform; moreover to allow researcher address new problems in an effective manner.  

For more details of how we can support you, please contact research-vm@auckland.ac.nz.