Two services are offered from the University cloud:

1. Hosted VMs service


This service offers individual Windows or Linux virtual machines, which can be self-managed or managed centrally by IT Services. In the former case we will deploy a Linux or Windows VM, hand over the root/administrator password to you and then you are responsible for all further administration. Further information on managed VMs is available from

At present the following operating systems / distributions are offered:

  • Windows Server 2008
  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Debian GNU/Linux 6 (Squeeze)
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6
  • CentOS 6
  • Ubuntu Server 12.04 LTS

However there is nothing to prevent you reinstalling the VM with another operating system / distribution if you so choose.

Contact if you would like to take advantage of this service. For new customers, we’ll need a technical and administrative point of contact. Please note that for a self-managed VM, we expect the customer to nominate an experienced systems administrator to act as the technical contact.

1.2 Administration

Console access to VMs is provided through a web portal, available at Customers will be provided with an Active Directory account, with which they can log into the web portal.

Please note that the web portal is restricted to the Oxford network, so you will need to use the University VPN service to access the portal from outside the University network. The VPN service requires use of an Oxford Remote Access account, which is only available to University members. Consequently this means that the portal (and hence console access to VMs) is only available to University members. See for more details.

1.3 NSMS VM4Rent service

Customers who have VMs hosted under the NSMS VM4Rent service will be migrated into the new Hosted VMs service, in consultation with the customer. Any VM hosted under the VM4Rent service, that is of a lower specification than the baseline offered under Hosted VMs, will be upgraded during the migration process.

2. Virtual Data Centre service

2.1 Basics

The virtual datacentre service offers a pool of compute resource, storage and potentially a pool of external IP addresses for allocation to VMs as the customer sees fit. In vSphere terms this is essentially equivalent to a resource pool with reservations and limits applied. Three sizing options are available:

Small (10 GHz, 20GB RAM, 500GB storage)

Medium (20 GHz, 40GB RAM, 1000GB storage)

Large (30 GHz, 60GB RAM, 1500GB storage)

This resource is then made available to the virtual datacentre, and can be assigned to deployed virtual machines.

2.2 Network connectivity

A number of networking options are available to a customer with a virtual datacentre. The first decision to make is whether to host your virtual datacentre (vDC) on the Campus cluster or the Datacentre cluster:

Campus Cluster

With this option, the vDC is set up as an annexe to your main site, providing direct (layer 2) connectivity to your local Campus VLAN. The vDC uses your existing IP range and is trunked back to a port on your Frodo, which you can then present to your core switch. The advantage of this is that you can host your vDC behind your local firewall, and you can use the same IP addresses as you do for your existing network. However there is a consequent stability risk – as the broadcast domain for each Campus customer extends across the backbone and into the datacentre, it is entirely possible that another Campus customer can cause an outage on your network. Furthermore the Campus cluster provides only 1Gbit connectivity into the cloud.

Datacentre Cluster

This option is recommended by the SiS team, as it provides much greater resiliency. Virtual datacentres on the Datacentre cluster will be allocated a pool of IP addresses (11 as standard, but with an option to increase this if necessary), with a virtual layer 3 firewall providing NAT capabilities also available if required. The Datacentre cluster provides 10Gbit connectivity into the cloud.

Note that the two clusters are completely separate in terms of networking, so networking issues on the Campus cluster cannot affect the Datacentre cluster.

Customers with a virtual datacentre (either on the Campus or Datacentre cluster) may also request one or more private internal networks to be created for them. By default these will have no external connectivity, although a VM with two virtual network cards may be deployed to connect the internal network to the external datacentre network. Internal networks may be useful for management, cluster heartbeats etc.

2.3 Administration

Administration of a virtual datacentre is in many ways similar to a local vSphere installation, although it is done through a web portal rather than via the vSphere client. Access to your vDC is controlled by the customer, either through integration with your local Active Directory (or other LDAP compliant directory service) or with a self-managed internal user database. Oxford (SSO) accounts are not yet supported, although a proof-of-concept project was successful and this support will be added soon.

Console access to VMs is provided through this web portal. Please note that the web portal is restricted to the Oxford network only, so you will need to use the University VPN service for access to the portal from outside the University network. See for more details.

There are also some limitations on browser and operating system combinations. Formally only the browsers listed in the VMware knowledgebase article Web browser support in vCloud Director 1.5 are supported, but we have found that a wider range of browsers will work. Note that there are no browsers supported on Mac OS X systems – you will need to use a Linux or Windows VM to gain console access to your VMs through the web portal.

2.4 Getting started

A step by step guide to setting up your virtual datacentre and deploying your first VM is available in our getting started guide.

Further reading

You can read more about the private cloud using the links below: