ERICA – E-Research Institutional Cloud Architecture




ERICA – E-Research Institutional Cloud Architecture – is secure cloud computing infrastructure for individuals working with sensitive, often large-scale data. It provides a highly secure, yet highly functional, computing environment that enables cutting-edge data analytics and reporting. Importantly, the code base for ERICA can be used to establish Cloned Instances for use by other organisations.

Key features:

  • delivered through Amazon Web Services (AWS) 

  • each ERICA instance provides up to 100 isolated Project Spaces (data cannot be shared between Project Spaces) 

  • Project Spaces are accessed through User WorkSpaces (virtual desktops) 

  • customised computing resources can be provisioned inside each User WorkSpace 

  • project-specific roles and permissions are assigned to each User 

  • Users authenticate using a single set of login credentials in addition to a mandatory multi-factor authentication process

  • User-initiated data movement is tightly controlled and logged through a gateway hub 

ERICA instances are operated at UNSW Sydney, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (Secure Remote Access Environment – SRAE), and the NSW Data Analytics Centre (NSW Secure Analytics Lab) which is part of the NSW Government - Department of Customer Service. Proposed new instances are planned for the University of Melbourne, SA-NT DataLink, and the University of Western Australia, supported through investment from the Australian Research Data Commons.

Who can use ERICA?

ERICA supports projects involving UNSW-based or affiliated Chief Investigators. However, project members external to UNSW can be added as Users and provided access to Project Spaces. All Users must be named on appropriate ethical approvals, hold data custodian and other required approvals, and have entered into relevant data sharing agreements.

Other institutions or organisations wishing to use ERICA may consider establishing a Cloned Instance that can be operated independently.

Should I use ERICA?

This depends on several factors - do you have:

  • a requirement to store, access, and analyse highly sensitive data?

  • a requirement to analyse large-scale and complex data using advanced analytics?

  • sufficient funds to cover associated costs?

If the answer to these preliminary questions is 'yes', then ERICA may be suitable.

What data can be hosted within ERICA?

ERICA holds Privacy and Security Assurance Framework (PSAF) accreditation from eHealth NSW and therefore has approval to host NSW Health data. Information Security Registered Assessors Program (IRAP) accreditation is currently in progress.

ERICA does not currently provide a data repository or data lake facility, but this may be supported in future.

How much does ERICA cost?

ERICA is delivered through Amazon Web Services (AWS) which offers a “pay-as-you-go” approach to pricing. This approach is similar to how you pay for utilities like water and electricity – you only pay for the services you consume and are billed following consumption. For this reason, we cannot provide a quote for potential costs and it is difficult to provide an estimate without detailed information regarding the type of project that will be hosted and its technical requirements.  

There are several types of associated costs: 

Infrastructure Costs

AWS infrastructure costs are those charged for core services that are shared across all Project Spaces. These costs are currently billed to individual projects on a pro rata basis as an infrastructure contribution, but this may change in future. 

Project Space Costs – billed to individual projects 

These are entirely dependent upon the type of project, its technical requirements, and usage, but may include: 

  • project-specific storage and compute requirements 

  • file server 

  • data ingestion 

  • iHub web application 

User WorkSpace Costs (Windows - Asia Pacific, Sydney) – billed to individual projects 

  • between AU$42.00 and AU$230.00 per month per User WorkSpace for standard bundle options

  • up to AU$1,250 per month per User WorkSpace for standard GPU bundle option

What do different types of projects pay?

Standard Usage Case  

  • small project with a single or few active users 

  • linked administrative data 

  • standard compute 

  • indicative monthly cost – AU$260*

Sophisticated Usage Case  

  • large project with multiple active users 

  • electronic medical records data 

  • graphics processing unit (GPU) 

  • machine learning 

  • indicative (high usage) monthly cost – AU$2,020*

* includes infrastructure contribution, Project Space, and User WorkSpace costs

Automatic changes to running mode and alerts out of the system assist Users in cost management and optimisation, however, Chief Investigators and Users should be aware of what components are incurring costs and under what circumstances – some, even when idle. Future development work will include enhancements that further reduce associated costs. 

Prof Louisa Jorm
ERICA Director
Richard Green ERICA System Administrator
Ghalib Ahmad ERICA Software Manager
Dr Tim Churches ERICA Technical Advisor


More Information
Visit our other pages for information helpful to UNSW-based or affiliated individuals interested in using ERICA, as well as to organisations considering establishing an ERICA Cloned Instance.

Approvals and accreditations:  

  • NSW: eHealth NSW under the Privacy and Security Assurance Framework. 

  • COMMONWEALTH: IRAP accreditation and process for approval to hold Commonwealth data in progress. 

Awards: 2021 CAUDIT Awards Finalist - Excellence in Research Support.


Service providers: Amazon Web Services, Intersect Australia, DiUS Computing


  • UNSW Research Infrastructure Scheme.

  • ERICA received investment ( from the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC). The ARDC is funded by the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS).