Introduction to the JASMIN Cloud

In addition to the traditional batch computing (LOTUS) and storage (Group Workspaces) services, JASMIN also provides a cloud computing service.

Many users will already be familiar with cloud services through the use of one of the large public providers (e.g. Amazon AWS or Microsoft Azure). The JASMIN Cloud is similar in that it allows an institution or project to consume compute resources as a utility, with no need to provision and maintain the associated physical infrastructure. Users can provision their own virtual machines (VMs) within the JASMIN infrastructure, allowing for greater flexibility. The JASMIN Cloud also allows users to provision clusters for Identity Management, Kubernetes, and Slurm clusters amongst others (see Cluster-as-a-Service).

The thing that makes the JASMIN Cloud unique is it's colocation with the CEDA Archive and Group Workspaces. The JASMIN Cloud is ideally suited to projects that work with such data, and can enable novel solutions for the manipulation and presentation of data to end-users.

Cloud terminology

Different cloud providers have different terms for the users within their cloud and the chunks of resource they have been allocated. In the JASMIN Cloud documentation, we will use the following terminology:

  • Tenancy: An allocation of resources, i.e. virtual CPUs, RAM and block storage, within the cloud.
  • Tenant: A group (institution or project) that has been allocated a tenancy in the cloud.
  • Tenancy Admin(istrator): The person designated as the administrator of a tenancy. There would usually also be a deputy administrator.

JASMIN Cloud Architecture

In order to provide as much flexibility as possible for tenants while preserving the security of the system, the JASMIN Cloud is split into two parts (see the schematic below). Both parts of the JASMIN Cloud are administered through the same self-service portal, allowing tenancy admins to provision VMs as required, within the quota of their tenancy.

The JASMIN External Cloud is an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offering, and sits outside of the main JASMIN firewall. Tenants are allowed root access and have complete responsibility for all system administration tasks. This means that tenants are able to provision their own infrastructure (e.g. web portals, remote desktop services), but it also means that tenants are responsible for the security of their machines (e.g. patching, firewall configuration) and for managing their own users. Because it is outside of the JASMIN firewall, tenancies in the External Cloud cannot directly access the JASMIN storage (including PFS, and SOF), and so there is no filesystem level access to the CEDA Archive or Group Workspaces - all access to these data is via the usual external interfaces (i.e. the Object Store, FTP, OpenDAP, HTTP). We also have our Cluster-as-a-Service available to external cloud tenants which is a Platform-as-a-Service offering that tenants can use to deploy clusters including, an identity cluster, storage cluster (NFS), and a Kubernetes cluster.

External Cloud patching policy

We expect tenants to react in a timely manner to any security vulnerabilities. This means critical vulnerabilities are patched within 7 days, and high vulnerabilities are patched within 14 days. This is following UKRI security policy. Failure to comply may result in tenancy access being revoked and machines powered down.

By contrast, the  JASMIN Managed Cloud is a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering, sitting inside the main JASMIN firewall, meaning it can reach the JASMIN storage. In order to preserve security, this means that tenants are not allowed root access, and can only deploy VMs from a limited set of pre-approved templates. However, tenants are not responsible for the security of these machines, and users on VMs within the tenancy are JASMIN users. Currently, only two templates are available - an SSH bastion, or login machine, and a Scientific Analysis server with a similar configuration to the shared JASMIN Scientific Analysis servers. The Scientific Analysis servers have the CEDA Archive and Group Workspaces mounted.

Both offerings have a similar network structure. Each tenancy has its own local network, where machines have addresses in the range - all machines in the tenancy can talk to each other on this network. In addition, each tenancy has an "edge device", which is effectively a virtual router. Similarly to your home broadband router, this allows machines within the tenancy to talk to machines outside the tenancy, and ensures packets coming back into the tenancy are forwarded to the correct machine. These "edge devices" also provide a Network Address Translation (NAT) facility, which allows machines to be allocated an IP address that is visible outside of the tenancy. In the Managed Cloud, this translates to an IP address that is visible on the JASMIN network. In the External Cloud, it translates to an IP address that is visible on the public internet.

External vs. Managed - pros and cons

Managed Cloud External Cloud
Self-service provisioning Yes Yes
Filesystem level access to JASMIN Storage (PFS, SOF)
Yes No
Root access No Yes
Provision custom infrastructure SSH bastion or Scientific Analysis server only Build from generic Ubuntu or CentOS templates
Security and patching Handled by infrastructure team Tenant's responsibility
User management JASMIN users Tenant's responsibility
Visibility to public internet No Yes (limited number of external IPs)
Ability to provision Cluster-as-a-Service
No Yes

Getting a JASMIN Cloud Tenancy

To start a conversation with us about getting a JASMIN Cloud Tenancy for your project, please contact JASMIN Support.

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