AeRIC October Meeting
Tuesday 19 October, 2010
Professor Geoff Taylor
Interim Director, NeCTAR
NeCTAR’s primary objective is to enhance research collaboration and research
This will be pursued through:
•Provision of ICT infrastructure that creates new information-centric research
capabilities, as well as further developing existing expertise
•Significantly simplifying the flow of data from instruments to storage and computing
facilities for access and analysis in a range of applications
•Enabling the development of research workflows based on access to multiple
The intention is to support the so-called ‘connected researcher’ who, either at the
desktop or the benchtop, has access to a full suite of digitally-enabled data, and
analytic and modelling resources relevant to their research.
The NeCTAR investment sits within a broader eResearch capability and is aimed at
providing the bridge between researchers and eResearch resources.
The nature of the Super Science (EIF) funding requires that the project focus on the
creation and development of infrastructure - therefore the emphasis of the program
is on development and implementation of tools that enhance research capability.
Key outcomes of the project will be to:
•Deploy research infrastructure and services nationally that are not otherwise
available to researchers
•Extend the use of the infrastructure and services to a wider cross-section of
researchers more quickly than would otherwise occur.
A further key success factor will be the generation of a practical rationale for ongoing
investment in this area. Models for sustainability will be pursued as part of the
project plan and ongoing implementation.
The NeCTAR Consultation Plan is available for download from the NeCTAR website at
It outlines the process the project will take to seek sector views on:
The implementation of the project components
The budget distribution between components
The roles of various sector participants
How much co-investment might be needed to supplement Super Science investment
in each of the project components
It will also seek sector support for:
Processes that can select activities and make resource allocations to the development
and provisioning of components of the infrastructure
The consultation process will ensure that the service and functional requirements of the
end user community are well understood. A broad base of the community will be
consulted to understand, to a reasonable degree of specificity, what their ongoing
support requirements are.
Key consultation milestones
Projected completion date
Consultation Paper released to sector
8 October 2010
Written responses to Consultation Paper received
5 November 2010
Written responses published on NeCTAR website
(those marked confidential will not be published)
15 November 2010
NeCTAR townhall meetings held in capital cities
26 November – 3 December 2010
Draft Final Project Plan released to sector for
comment following agreement with NeCTAR
Independent Project Board and DIISR
28 January 2011
Written responses to Draft Final Project Plan
25 February 2011
Final Project Plan submitted to DIISR for agreement
31 March 2011
Final Project Plan published
30 April 2011
Consultation progress to date
NeCTAR will engage with the sector through:
1. Targeted face-to-face meetings with NeCTAR staff
2. Written responses to the Consultation Paper
3. Participation in townhall meetings
4. Written responses to the Draft Final Project Plan
Consultation through face-to-face meetings is already underway to establish early
connections and to assess the needs of large eResearch users – this will ensure the
NeCTAR infrastructure planning appropriately takes these into account.
The NeCTAR Consultation Paper has been distributed to the sector and is available for
download from the NeCTAR website: www.nectar.org.au.
Written responses are invited by 5 November.
NeCTAR townhall meeting schedule
Friday 26 November, 1.00 – 5.00pm
Monday 29 November, 1.00 – 5.00pm
Tuesday 30 November, 1.00 – 5.00pm
Wednesday 1 December, 1.00 – 5.00pm
Thursday 2 December, 1.00 – 5.00pm
Friday 3 December, 10:00am – 2:00pm
More information about the townhall meetings, including formal advice of
venue and RSVP details, will be released to the sector shortly.
Process for analysing input
Written responses and feedback received through meetings and the townhall events will
be examined for the guidance they can offer the project in terms of:
The principles that should be used to set the priorities for the infrastructure
The process for actively identifying and approving proposed activities under the
various project components
The process for determining resource allocation to approved activities
Responses will be particularly examined for synergies with the services and infrastructure
to be delivered under the RDSI project, to the extent that this information is then
It is expected that responses will highlight sector views on the amount and nature of the
co-investment required to supplement the Super Science investment in the NeCTAR
project components. This information will be critical importance in the formation of
the Final Project Plan.
NeCTAR project components
The NeCTAR project objectives will be delivered through four project components:
1. eResearch Tools. These tools will support the continuing development of research
tools and services and their integration with other NCRIS- and Super Science-funded
2. Virtual Laboratories. Exemplar problem-oriented Virtual Laboratories will be created
from sensor, instrument, compute, data and visualisation resources.
3. Research Cloud. A set of virtualised research applications that operate in a secure and
shared environment, connected to major instruments, compute and data nodes.
4. National Servers. These will provide the core functions to enable advanced
information services, enhanced collaboration and the improved interoperation of
Components 1 and 2 will be problem- or discipline-specific, requiring the development of
infrastructure directly relevant to specific research needs.
Components 3 and 4 are intended to be multi-purpose and support a wide range of enduser needs.
eResearch Tools (RT) program
The RT-program aims to develop and improve selected eResearch tools and services to:
enhance their capabilities including improved remote access, real-time interaction, or
enhance their support for collaborative work
increase their functionality particularly via access to other tools and services.
Each RT activity would be undertaken as a Sub-Project managed by a Sub-Contractor.
It is expected that:
each Sub-Project would be executed over a 12 to 24 month period
each Sub-Project would be provided with between $500,000 and $1 million as a
contribution towards infrastructure development and commissioning
Sub-Project participants would agree to maintain and operate relevant software,
middleware and hardware infrastructure at least through to the operational end of
NeCTAR (June 2014)
the NeCTAR Sub-Project funding contribution would be no more than 50% of total
Virtual Laboratories (VL) program
The VL-Program will construct a small number of leading research collaboration
environments that demonstrate the research benefits of more broadly integrated
The program will:
develop criteria for selection of investments with the research community
identify priority opportunities and associated co-investors through an open EOI
develop, install and commission the necessary purpose-specific integrated
infrastructure for each virtual laboratory, including any necessary multi-institutional
ICT deployment or National Server components.
A priority for the VL-Program will be to enhance the Super Science investments in
networking, supercomputing, data management, and the storage and collaboration
infrastructure, as well as other significant research support capabilities.
Research Cloud (RC) program
The RC-Program will provide access to a range of computing and integration with data
storage capabilities for research purposes, the latter of which are expected to come
from the national Research Data Storage Infrastructure (RDSI) project.
In the context of the national RDSI, the program will investigate opportunities to co-locate
cloud capabilities with the data storage capabilities, where such a need is identified.
Co-location may involve the addition of relevant capabilities to selected nodes
in the RDSI, including the:
installation of substantial (virtualised) server support capabilities located at one or
more national data stores for the use of the Project, including any necessary
specialised storage and interconnects required
provisioning of middleware to support on-demand scalable access to virtualised
server, cluster and storage capabilities, and the user management of such
capabilities, either by licence or as a service.
National Servers (NS) program
The NS-Program will provide server support for essential eResearch servers to appropriate
standards of reliability.
Servers may include:
servers to publish data, such as OpenDAP, THREDDS, GEONET, and AVO
specific back-end servers, such as those required to support a national file system,
centralised grid services, AAF functionality, and video mixing servers for desktop video
central servers required by Virtual Laboratories and the online collaborative
interaction of tools in the Research Cloud.
Example activities under the NS Program may include information services such as the
ANDS (Australian National Data Service) utilities, registries for the ALA (Atlas of Living
Australia), or packaging of the underlying storage capacity as a national drop box
Interaction with other eResearch initiatives
The RDSI initiative will provide data storage infrastructure to enhance regional data
centre development and support retention and integration of nationally significant
data assets into the national collaboration and data fabric
The Final NeCTAR Project Plan will take the activities of this initiative into account in
determining the details of the NeCTAR infrastructure arrangements
The NCRIS funding for ARCS concludes on 30 June 2011.
A number of important tools and services have been developed by ARCS to meet the
functional requirements of the research community. NeCTAR has the option to
continue these services, to further develop them, or to decide not to take them up,
depending upon the demand from the sector.
This will be determined through the consultation process and will be at the discretion
of the NeCTAR Project Board, assuming there is also sufficient compatibility with the
mission and framework of the NeCTAR project
Progress update on project establishment activities:
An Independent Chair has been appointed: Dr Graham Mitchell, AO.
Graham is recognised as one of Australia's leading biological scientists. He is the
former Director of Melbourne Zoo, and Research Director for CSL Limited. He also led
research into the parasite vaccines at The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. He is
currently a Chief Scientist to the Victorian Department of Primary Industries.
Determination of the full Board membership is now underway in consultation with
Applications for the Director position have now closed and interviews with candidates
will be conducted before the end of October.
Other Directorate staff are in place, including an Interim Business Manager and a
permanent Project Coordination Officer.
An interim NeCTAR website exists at www.nectar.org.au.