Research VM Service Introduction


Centrally-hosted virtual machines (VMs) are provided for University research staff and PG students through the Research Virtual Machine Service (RVMS). This service is complementary to commercial cloud services, such as Amazon EC2 and Azure: the RVMS is suitable for VMs which are expected to generate large amounts of network traffic, may be moderately CPU-intensive or require tight integration with the CIR ecosystem platforms (CSF, iCSF, etc.) or the Research Data Service (RDS).

After initial setup, administrative control of VMs provided is handed over to the nominated VM administrator. Alternatively where no group administrators are available, administrative support may be provided by Research IT as a chargeable service.

However, as described in the Operating Model, IT Services will NOT support any custom software stacks on these VMs as part of this service. Software stacks installed by the VM owner/administrator must be supported and maintained by that administrator, not IT Services. (An agreement may be made outside of this service, separately, to support custom software stacks as a chargeable service.)

Restrictions and Charging

All University research groups are entitled to some VM resource, but the resource available will be very limited. Greater VM resource is available but is charged for. These costings will reflect the high-level of resilience built into the platform and the cost of backups of VM images, but will not include charges for data uploads or downloads (in contrast to many commercial cloud services).

Applying for a VM

All applications for a VM should be made via the request form. If you need any help completing this please email:

Motivation for the Service

Replacement of Under-Desk Servers

Research groups at the University have Web sites, shared development areas and many other services running on machines under desks and in cupboards, all over campus. This is not a good way of doing things!

Few of these hosts offer a resilient service; many are not secured to the standard required on a public server.

The RVMI Service can be used to help research groups replace many of the above “servers” with a virtual machine running on the same resilient, professionally-managed, monitored infrastructure as many of IT Services systems:

  • research groups no longer need to administer / maintain hardware;
  • will have more reliable servers available to them;
  • and, as a bonus, University I.S. security is improved.

Tight Integration with CIR Ecosystem Platforms

VMs provided via this platform:

  • Can mount RDS storage space over the same fast, dedicated, secure network infrastructure as is used for the CSF, iCSF, etc.
  • Can be used as job submission engines for the CSF, etc. (e.g., using Galaxy) although approval for this will be needed from the CSF admins.

More Information

More information about this service:

  • The Operating Model describes: the funding model, and cost and entitlement to VMs; an overview of the platform/infrastructure; gives examples of how this service should (and should not) be used; available support from IT Services; and the responsibilities of researchers using the service.
  • The FAQ addresses technical issues related to the service.

or email the Research Infrastructure team at

Last modified on June 26, 2023 at 9:10 am by George Leaver