In 2020 Astronomy Australia Limited (AAL) and Swinburne University of Technology announced a partnership to provide dedicated astronomy access on the Swinburne cell within the NeCTAR Cloud network. 

The resources available for dedicated astronomy use consist of 2,000 virtual CPUs, with attachable volume storage and advanced networking (e.g. DNS zones, floating IP addresses, virtual routers), utilised via the OpenStack cloud computing platform. VMs can be provisioned in a variety of different ‘flavours’ to accommodate a broad spectrum of workflows. Single VMs will typically comprise up to 8 or 16 virtual CPUs and 16 or 32 GB RAM (although larger sizes are possible upon request). This Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) is similar to what Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure provide commercially.

Support for the usage of these resources is provided from within the Astronomy Data and Computing Services (ADACS) team at Swinburne. 

In particular, our OpenStack expert David recently provided a training session that covered: 

– a general introduction to cloud computing and OpenStack; 

– a demonstration on setting up a simple virtual machine (VM); 

– a brief overview of some other possible, more advanced, workflows. 

The recording of this session is available at:

and extensive user documentation is available at:

with information on how to get started, customised astronomy interfaces that are available, etc. 

We are keen to help you make use of the virtual machine resources. So please do get in touch with David via at any point with any queries you may have, e.g. to discuss if a use case that you have in mind is applicable or for help to get started. 

Note that it is envisaged that these resources will be of interest to small-job use cases that do not require the full blown infrastructure of a high-performance computing (HPC) facility and/or will benefit from the flexibility of working outside of a HPC environment. However, there is currently no restriction on use case and we are keen to see how this resource can be of benefit to a variety of astronomy workflows. 

ADACS is a collaboration between Swinburne University of Technology and Curtin University. It is funded under the Astronomy National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) Program via Astronomy Australia Ltd (AAL).