Cloud services describe the broad range of information technology resources – including servers, storage, databases and software – delivered via the internet. Cloud services provide on-demand, ubiquitous access to shared pools of resources and services, which can be easily managed and configured, also via the internet.

Dropbox and Google Drive storage options are examples of cloud services.

In addition to the storage and high-performance computing services offered by UCT via the cloud, there are cloud services available to the university’s researchers that are provided by inter-institutional partnerships – of which UCT is part – and cater to data-intensive research. These collaborations are made up of universities and other institutions that span scales from local to national and contribute infrastructure to a pool that supports cloud services for researchers affiliated to the institutions involved.

These initiatives for provisioning infrastructure – the Inter-University Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy Cloud and Ilifu – are outlined here. They have their own governance and management structures and guiding principles that determine access to the resources.

Providing such tools – including computing power, storage space, networking and databases – via the cloud allows institutions to pool their resources and invest in more powerful equipment to serve the needs of researchers working in data-intensive fields. The cloud also offers flexibility and speed, as vast amounts of computing resources can be provisioned quickly and easily. Cloud computing is also reliable because data can be mirrored in multiple locations.

If you are looking for infrastructure to support your data-intensive research work, you may find it through one of these initiatives: