New to Cloud

Moving to the cloud may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. This quick reference guide to key concepts, components and actions will help you get oriented so you can hit the cloud running.
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The ABCs of cloud

Terra provides you with tools and interfaces that abstract away most of the complexity involved in cloud computing, because we believe you shouldn’t have to become an engineer in order to use cloud resources for your research. So the good news is that you do NOT need to learn in-depth how cloud infrastructure works in order to use Terra effectively. Instead, you can focus on familiarizing yourself with just the key components and concepts that will be useful to you in the context of Terra.

Core cloud components

Storage buckets

Buckets 1

This is where files are stored in the cloud. Each bucket is a storage unit with a unique identifier; you can create and maintain arbitrary numbers of buckets.
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Virtual machines


VMs are the building blocks of cloud computing. At its simplest, each VM is like an individual computer; multiple VMs can be joined into a network or cluster.
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Containers are a way of packaging software tools with all of their dependencies down to the operating system, so that you can run the tools anywhere without installing
any other packages.
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Project administration

Account management
and billing


You can set up either a personal or enterprise account. For payment to the cloud vendor, you can use a credit card, a bank account or invoicing. Vendors typically offer free credits for getting started.
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What costs money

Money 5

The cloud vendor will charge you for data storage; for computational resources, based on type and duration of utilization; and for egress if you download data.
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Security and permissions

Security 6

The owner of a billing project has fine-grained control over who can see and do what with the resources attached to the project. Permissions can be assigned to individuals or groups.
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Important things to know about storage

Regions and zones

Regions 7

Cloud storage and computing resources are divided into geographical regions and zones. This places some constraints on speed and cost of computation.
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Classes of storage

Storage 8

There are different storage classes for balancing cost and retrieval needs. Data that can be retrieved quickly and frequently costs more to store than data that is placed in an archival state.
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Deletion 9

Deleting resources is final; you cannot recover the contents of a deleted bucket or virtual machine. However, there are safety mechanisms that can be used to prevent accidental deletion.
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