Research Infrastructure

Off-Campus Access: Gateways and Proxy Services

The information on this page is summarised on the Working from Home page. We recommend that page as a starting point to find out how to access compute (CSF and friends) and storage (RDS) while working at home.

The CSF, and other University research computing platforms cannot be accessed directly from off-campus, for security. Neither can off-campus resources (e.g., Web and FTP sites) be accessed directly from these platforms. So:

  • To login to the CSF and friends from off-campus, users will need to sign in to the University VPN (GlobalProtect or OpenVPN) with 2-factor authentication (DUO). You can then use a SSH (secure shell) program on your PC/laptop to login to the CSF/iCSF etc.
  • The Research IT-provided SSH Gateway Service or Virtual Desktop Service can also be used from off-campus (once signed in to the VPN). More information is given below.
  • Research Data Storage areas can be accessed from off-campus, although the method used depends on the type of storage. See the RDS-SSH description below. Please note that some research data may not be permitted to be accessed when off campus depending on the sensitivity of the data.
  • To download data from off-campus resources such as the Web (HTTP, HTTPS), FTP sites or databases etc, while you are using the CSF (i.e., the data is downloaded to the CSF from an external provider), users will need to use either the University Web Proxy or the Research-IT Network Address Translation service. Again, see below for both.

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

The required way to access any University service, like the CSF, from off-campus is to use the University VPN and 2-factor authentication. This facility is provided by IT Services (not Research IT) – you need to use GlobalProtect to access many other University services. Requests for help with the VPN and/or GlobalProtect should be made to via the Support Portal.
Once signed in to the VPN (using GlobalProtect or OpenVPN) you can access the CSF directly, using an ssh program, or you can first access the Linux virtual desktop facility described below (this is often used by users of the interactive CSF – the iCSF).

Direct links to the Support Portal Knowledge base pages on installing GlobalProtect or OpenVPN are here:

SSH Gateway and Research Virtual Desktop Services

Research IT provide these two services, giving a server which you can log in to from anywhere in the world, using either a traditional SSH command-line, or in to a remote desktop running Linux (without you needing to install Linux on your PC/laptop!) From there, you can log in to the CSF and friends. As with all ssh-based services, you must first be signed in to GlobalProtect (see above).

Please read the dedicated page for more information on registering and accessing these services.

RDS SSH

The Research Data Storage (RDS) Service offers two different types of storage shares (i.e., storage areas) to researchers. Most commonly, RDS shares are just like an IT Services P-drive, i.e., MS Windows-style “CIFS” shares which can be accessible (mounted) on your desktop. Other Linux-style “NFS” shares are available but are only accessible on the CSF and iCSF.

“CIFS” shares (only) can be mounted directly on your PC/laptop when on-campus, or when running GlobalProtect while off-campus.

Alternatively, Research IT provides the RDS-SSH service which allows researchers to access both types of shares, from their laptop or desktop machine (which could be running MS Windows, Mac OS-X or Linux) from both on and off campus via the fast, secure rds-ssh server. As with all ssh-based services, you must first be signed in to GlobalProtect (see above).

For more information, visit the dedicated page.

Web/HTTP and FTP Proxy

This service allows the downloading of data and files from Web/HTTP and FTP sites on to the CSF or iCSF. Sites such as Github can also be reached via the proxy to download code from repositories.

Network Address Translation Service

Finally, the NATaaS allows users of our computational platforms (the CSF and iCSF) to download data from off-campus databases, where the software used to do the download does not work through the University proxy.

Last modified on September 30, 2021 at 8:54 am by George Leaver