This is a glossary of terms relevant to the Australian Research Cloud.


Australian Research Cloud


  • Australian Research Cloud: National cloud for the Australian academic research community.
  • NeCTAR: The National eResearch Collaborative Tools and Resources project which set up the Australian Research Cloud.
  • Dashboard: The web interface to the cloud.
  • OpenStack: The open source cloud software (or middleware) that is used for the Australian Research Cloud.
  • Virtual Laboratory: An online research environment (software, tools, databases, etc) for a specific research discipline with components running in the cloud.
  • eResearch Tools: Research software running in the cloud.

Cloud virtual machines


  • Virtualisation: using a software layer to run multiple "virtual" servers on a single physical server, where each virtual server appears to the user to be just like a physical server.
  • Virtual machine (VM): a virtual server.
  • Instance: A particular virtual machine that is running in the cloud.
  • Image: The local file system that is used on a virtual machine, including the operating system, application software, encapsulated as a single file that can be loaded onto a VM.
  • Snapshot: An image file created from a running VM.
  • Virtual CPU (VCPU) or virtual core: the number of processors (or CPUs, or cores) available on a virtual machine. These may be the same as physical processors or there may be multiple VCPUs using a single physical CPU core.
  • Flavour or size: VMs in the cloud are available in multiple sizes, or flavours, with specific numbers of VCPUs and associated memory (RAM) and local disk.

Cloud storage


  • Instance storage: storage that is local to a VM instance and is ephemeral (any files disappear when the VM is shut down) and limited in size.
  • Volume storage: persistent, expandable storage that can be attached to a single VM like a virtual hard disk.
  • Volume: a particular area of volume storage. One or more volumes can be attached to a single VM.
  • Object storage: data files can be accessed from the VM or from anywhere via the web (i.e. http).
  • Cinder: the software used to provide volume storage in OpenStack.
  • Swift: the standard software to provide object storage in OpenStack.
  • Ceph: an alternative approach to providing object storage in OpenStack.

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