The Inter-University Cloud Service Unit (CSU)

Cloud computing offers the scientific and research communities extraordinary new opportunities to build virtual research environments, to flexibly scale up their activities and to optimally utilize inherently limited funding resources. In order to meet and keep pace with the growing needs of Israel’s research and academic communities, IUCC, with the support of the Council for Higher Education in Israel, developed the Cloud Service Unit (CSU).The CSU provides low-cost but top-quality cloud services to the academic community from Israel’s leading cloud providers, at a lower price compared to what you would get by contacting them directly. In addition, the CSU offers fast connectivity and user support dedicated to academic researchers. Through this portal you can purchase cloud resources easily and quickly .

The CSU portal is currently operational. Click here to open a new account.

Working with emind and the IUCC Cloud Service Unit provided a worry-free storage environment, computing power and technical support. Both emind and the CSU have a wide range of knowledge and their ability to adapt to the world of academic research was fast and responsive. I received very personal attention and a quick solution to every problem was found. With their help, we were able to perform procedures that before were impossible due to limitations on computing power and storage, and the efficiency of our work was significantly improved. Highly recommended.”
– Dr. Sol Efroni, IUCC CSU Proof of Concept team member,   Head of the Systems Biomedicine Lab at the Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials (BINA) and a senior lecturer at the Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences at Bar-Ilan University.

 

Who benefits?

Users who require more computing power
The first advantage of the CSU is of course that it gives you access to powerful cloud systems, which offer you more resources than what you will usually get in the academy and will enable you to reduce the running time and get results more quickly, thus remaining competitive with other researchers.

Users who require scalability
For researchers that need an increasing amount of computing resources, cloud computing offers a very flexible system that can immediately adapt and accommodate their growing needs.

Users who have limited funding
CSU can reduce the costs, first by offering cloud services for lower prices than what you will find on the market, and secondly because of the nature of cloud computing itself. The cloud system adapts itself to the users’ changing workload and allocates resources accordingly, and then bills them according to the resources used. In other words, the users get the optimal use of the money they spend.

Users who need help adapting their work for cloud computing
One disadvantage of the cloud provider is that they offer little customer service. The users are left to their own devices and have to adapt their code to the cloud environment by themselves. For those who have difficulties doing so, the CSU offers free support from a team that specializes in adapting academic work to the cloud.

Users collaborating on the same project
Cloud computing gives you the ability to sync up and work on documents and shared apps simultaneously, and follow colleagues and records to receive critical updates in real time.

IT Managers
IT managers in the universities can use the cloud for disaster recovery, as well as offer the CSU as another service to their users.

How does it work?

The main service offered by the CSU is reselling of cloud computing resources. The resources are purchased wholesale from public cloud providers and then resold at a lower cost to our customers.  A researcher interested in using the CSU has to subscribe to the service, and then he can choose between three routes of working with the CSU:

The independent route
If you wish to work independently on the cloud, all you will need to do is go to the portal, choose the provider you wish to work with, pay the fee and start working right away.
The semi-independent route
The CSU team will be able to provide monitoring to ensure that you make the most efficient use of the cloud, while allowing you to work independently.

Billing

The CSU billing system was created especially for the unit, designed to address two main issues for academic users: the need to use a credit card to pay for public cloud providers and the inability to prepay for services. For many researchers this means that they cannot use grant funds, preventing them working on the cloud. They are also apprehensive about the risks of making programming errors and exceeding budgets as a result.

The CSU billing system offers prepaid accounts to solve these problems. Researchers decide how much money they want to invest in a certain project and pay for it in advance. The money is remitted to the CSU (i.e. to IUCC), the CSU pays the cloud provider and instructs the provider to open an account for the project. Despite the extra mediator, the researchers pay the same amount they would have paid directly. When the project has utilized 75% of the prepaid funds, researchers are notified and again when 80% of the funds have been used. At 90% the account is alerted and suspended. The researcher can then add funds to continue the project or work on the data and store the output for later use.

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