IaaS Cloud

The CIERA project was a proof of concept for an Infrastructure as a Service (IAAS) community cloud for HEAnet clients. The CIERA project included an Openstack (Red Hat distribution) cloud in a HEAnet datacentre with an Edugain enabled multi-tenant multi-cloud portal which allowed users to provision resources across the HEAnet Openstack community cloud, Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Engine and Amazon AWS as well as providing user and cost management capabilities. The CIERA project provided substantial benefits including gaining valuable experience in IAAS and cloud use-cases, network and storage integration, user role based management and cost management.

The CIERA proof of concept concluded in October 2015 and subsequently it was decided not to proceed with a follow on proposal for an Openstack based Community Cloud Pilot.

POC (Proof of Concept) Details

The HEAnet Cloud Proof of Concept (POC) will provide Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) Cloud capabilities for use by HEAnet and its clients during the POC evaluation period. The IaaS platform as illustrated below in figure 1 will provide a Cloud Compute capability i.e. Virtual Machines (VMs) in a variety of sizes and flavours (Linux and Windows Server) and associated storage (including Edustorage as an option) via a web portal as the user Interface (UI) federated with HEAnet’s Edugate service. The main objective is to provide a flexible and reliable IaaS platform to allow self-provisioning of compute and storage resources whereby HEAnet and its clients can test and evaluate the HEAnet cloud and potential usecases for a future cloud service(s). A secondary objective is to evaluate the Multicloud Web Portal and its potential to provide a single portal to manage multiple cloud resources and cost across public clouds (Microsoft, Amazon, Google) and the HEAnet IaaS community cloud.

The HEAnet IaaS Cloud will be available for approximately 9 months at no cost to HEAnet clients with full administrative control by client IT departments. The evaluation period will be used to identify and test relevant usecases and define the potential demand and business case for an IaaS Cloud Compute service.

HEAnet IaaS Cloud Compute

HEAnet Cloud Capabilities

The following is a summary of the key capabilities of the HEAnet IaaS Cloud Compute platform.

Web Portal

  • The Cloud Compute platform provides a Web Portal with an easy to use standardised interface for users across public clouds as well as the HEAnet IaaS cloud and allow them to provision and manage resources. The Web based portal is federated with HEAnet Edugate so users can be logged on using their campus credentials i.e. Single Sign-on capability.
  • Role Based Access Control (RBAC) of user privileges under the control of the HEAnet Client IT department e.g. administration, read only, hard and soft quotas to control resource usage and cost.
  • Ability to create and manage cloud resources (with client accounts) in HEAnet Cloud, MS Azure, Amazon AWS, and Google Compute public clouds including applying cost and usage quotas to users.

Virtual Machines (VMs)

  • Capacity for approximately 250 VMs available in different sizes based on CPU, Ram and Storage.
  • Choice of VM flavours (Centos, Ubuntu, Red Hat, Debian, Windows Server 2012) as well as the option for clients to have an own private library of images.


  • Ability to provide internet connectivity to VMs.
  • Ability to provide connectivity to existing campus networks at layer 2 (requires additional HEAnet and campus network configuration) effectively creating a Virtual Private Cloud subject to agreement with each HEAnet client. This allows VMs to be part of the campus network i.e. same IP subnet and also part of the normal campus IT management and control e.g. firewalls.


  • The HEAnet Cloud provides standard amounts of Ephemeral (non persistent), Object and Block Storage based on the VM sizes and which can be supplemented by the HEAnet Edustorage service (additional cost).

Frequently Access Questions.

Which users in HEAnet clients can avail of the HEAnet cloud?

As with HEAnet production services, the IT department is the point of contact for HEAnet. The IT department can decide what users and usecases it wishes to allow e.g. whether access is enabled within the IT department only for IT requirements or extended to external departments/users e.g. library, researchers, lecturers, students etc.

How will users access the HEAnet Cloud?

Access will be provided via a web portal (Dell Cloud Manager) which is federated via EduGate with administrative rights delegated to the HEAnet client (IT dept).

What commitments must be provided to HEAnet as part of the participation?

Access to the cloud platform will be provided at no cost to HEAnet clients but with some limits due to the amount of resources available. In return, HEAnet will request detailed feedback on the usecases tested as well as an estimate of demand for a future service and technical feedback e.g. performance, requested features.

What can I use the HEAnet Cloud for?

The purpose of the proof of concept is to evaluate usecases relevant to the Irish education and research sector and in line with HEAnet’s acceptable usage policy (AUP).

What is a “good” usecase?

Usecases which are generally a good fit for IaaS Cloud (public or private) are those applications or services which already have been or can be virtualised and are not very heavy in terms of demands on disk I/O or network latency as well as being tolerant of failures in the underlying infrastructure?

What is the underlying solution used by HEAnet to provide the Cloud platform?

The solution is being provided by Dell following the recent Cloud Compute RFT. The underlying cloud is Openstack (Icehouse release) through the Red Hat Distribution and running on Red Hat Linux. The Multicloud web portal is the Dell Cloud Manager (DCM – formerly Enstratius).

What functionality does the Multicloud Portal provide?

The Multicloud portal (Dell Cloud Manager – DCM) is the main user interface to the HEAnet Cloud for launching VMs, attaching storage etc. The portal also has API access into several public clouds as well as the HEAnet Openstack cloud. The portal can therefore be used to launch VMs in Azure, AWS, Google compute without logging into these services directly. One of the main benefits of the Multicloud Portal is providing users with a standard interface as well as providing institutes with the ability to track usage of resources and costs in public clouds as well as controlling them via quotas.

Will the Multicloud portal avoid the need to use credit cards with Amazon?

No, the Multicloud portal is not integrated into Amazon AWS for payments.

Will HEAnet provide public cloud accounts as part of the Multicloud Portal?

No, clients will need to provide their own public cloud account(s) for the Multicloud portal as there are costs associated with the accounts.

Can I use the HEAnet Cloud to run a production service?

No, the HEAnet cloud is currently a proof of concept and although it is intended to be a potential prototype for a future cloud service, it is not designed for production services.

What about OS licenses?

HEAnet will provide licenses for Windows Server VMs and is investigating Red Hat Linux licensing currently. Alternatively clients can use their own licenses.

What support will HEAnet provide?

HEAnet will assist in onboarding of clients e.g. getting campus connectivity and supporting the core cloud platform up to the hypervisor level with the end user responsible for supporting the layers above this.

How can I get access to the HEAnet Cloud or find out more?

Simply email robert.hackett@heanet.ie to express your interest.

What happens next?

HEAnet will follow up to discuss and clarify your requirements and potential usecases, technical and capacity requirements etc to verify and approve access to the HEAnet Cloud. There will be a workshop at the HEAnet conference and closer to the go-live date (targeted January 2014) there will be further details on how to use the web portal.

What happens after the end of the evaluation period?

At the end of the planned proof of concept evaluation period of 9 months, the future of the cloud platform will be decided based on the feedback of HEAnet clients.