Secure Research Computing in the Cloud: Unlocking Opportunities for Researchers

The use of cloud computing has transformed many aspects of our lives, from personal productivity to data storage and management. The higher education sector is no exception, and researchers and research IT teams have begun to leverage cloud-based solutions to advance their research initiatives.

In particular, the cloud has provided researchers with access to powerful computing resources and data storage capabilities, enabling them to conduct complex and large-scale research projects in a more efficient and cost-effective manner.

However, as the cloud has become increasingly essential for research, security and privacy concerns have become increasingly pressing. Research initiatives often involve sensitive and confidential data, and universities must ensure that their research activities are compliant with regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).  Furthermore, research sponsors (government and private) are requiring enhanced cybersecurity compliance requirements be addressed prior to the awarding of grants.

To address these challenges, universities and research institutions can engage in secure research computing in the cloud through an “as-a-service” model. This way, researchers and research IT teams can access the required computing and data storage resources through a third-party service provider, eliminating the need to manage and secure these resources internally.

By outsourcing the provisioning and management of your research enclaves to a trusted provider, you avoid burdening internal IT with varying security and compliance aspects of research environments. Universities can free up their internal IT teams to focus on other critical initiatives while ensuring that their research activities are secure and compliant. Furthermore, by leveraging the advanced capabilities of the cloud, universities can provide researchers with access to the latest and most sophisticated computing and data storage technologies.

Cloud Service providers (CSP’s) like Microsoft have taken great steps in enabling secure research computing in the cloud. Microsoft Azure offers a comprehensive suite of cloud-based services for research initiatives, providing researchers with access to high-performance computing resources, data storage, and data analytics capabilities, all of which are fully compliant with regulatory requirements when implemented correctly.

Another advantage of secure research computing in the cloud is the ability to scale resources quickly and easily. In the traditional research computing model, acquiring additional computing resources can be a slow and complex process, often involving procurement, installation, and maintenance. However, with secure research computing in the cloud, researchers can quickly obtain additional resources as needed, allowing them to adapt to changing research requirements and maximize their research outcomes.

In sum, secure research computing in the cloud can provide universities with a powerful and flexible solution for their research initiatives. By engaging in an “as-a-service” model, universities can obtain access to the required resources in a compliant and secure manner, freeing up internal IT teams to focus on other critical initiatives, and enabling researchers to leverage the advanced capabilities of the cloud to advance their research.