Unlocking the power of Australia’s Tier 1 supercomputer

The Pawsey Supercomputing Research Centre (Pawsey) is one of two Tier-1 high-performance computing facilities in Australia. Its primary function is to accelerate scientific research for the benefit of the nation. Pawsey’s service and expertise in supercomputing, data, cloud services and visualisation, enables research across a variety of fields including astronomy, life sciences, medicine, energy, resources and artificial intelligence.  

The Australian Access Federation (AAF) is collaborating with Pawsey, exploring options to provide seamless access to their services. Together we are developing a solution, that allows users to access Pawsey services with their organisational credentials. This will reduce security risks and enhance collaboration with other research infrastructures nationally and internationally. 

Nick Rossow, AAF’s eResearch Portfolio Manager says “The work we are doing with Pawsey is a foundational building block in the management of trusted identity access for all national research infrastructure and will play a critical role in the implementation of trust and identity across the sector. With them we are building a national Trust and Identity Framework. 

“It will enable Pawsey users situated within Australian and international universities, to access services – easily and securely – via their university credentials.  

“Furthermore, this incubator will enable Pawsey to use this Trust and Identity Framework, to integrate with the trust and identity solution for the Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO). The SKAO is a next-generation radio-astronomy facility that will revolutionise the understanding of the universe. It is an international collaboration, with telescopes located in Australia and South Africa, with global headquarters in the United Kingdom. It requires many users, from a variety of locations to securely access the data it generates.”

A national framework for trusted identity

The AAF is the national capability in trust and identity for the research and higher education sector, and we are developing a system-wide Trust and Identity Framework for Australia’s national research infrastructure.   

Through this initiative we are exploring the development of a connected research ecosystem for researchers, as well as industry, government, and the community. By implementing federated access, we are paving the way for innovation, collaboration, and commercialisation. Users will be able to log in once and seamlessly access resources for collaboration.  

The AAF manages the Australian Federation and is one of more than 80 federations globally. We enable access to more than 800 services nationally and internationally, including CERN, CSIRO and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). As a part of the Trust and Identity Pathfinder for national research infrastructures, we are adapting a globally recognised framework to facilitate best practice trust and identity for seamless access to the entire national research infrastructure ecosystem. 

Incubator shows the benefits of improved access through federated identity

In partnership with Pawsey, we are exploring the application of trust and identity for national research infrastructure, through a combination of technology and policy. This incubator allows us to test how researchers and other users connect to a supercomputing service.  

Nick Rossow further says “Within this incubator, we are exploring how we can utilise AAF credentials across Pawsey’s systems such as service allocation, application systems, command line access to high-performance computers, storage and web services.   

“We are also looking at external integrations with platforms such as Globus for data movement, and Nextflow Tower for computation job submission and management. Currently we are working towards a demonstration of a Trust and Identity Framework that Pawsey can showcase to its collaborators. 

“This incubator will improve access for users by integrating federated identity across Pawsey’s infrastructure, to improve automation, aid in the adoption of new tools to support users, improve oversight and strengthen identity management at Pawsey.” 

The AAF is an NCRIS enabled trust and identity capability

The Australian Government’s 2021 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap identified trust and identity as fundamental research infrastructure. The Australian Access Federation (AAF) is building a Trust and Identity Framework that includes common policies, standards and technologies so researchers will enjoy a more cohesive network of services. Through one username and password they will be able to seamlessly access multiple national research capabilities.