Project discussion: Managing software/package install and licences on secure environments without internet access#


  • How do we get users actually working on their projects? Code/libraries/software etc

  • How do we manage licencing?


  • Sheffield has 2 environments in TRE, one secure with access to internet SDSTP accreditation, one very secure with no internet access, ISO27001

  • Not open-source (RONIN) and AWS TRE

  • Looking for experiences of how other TREs have made it work

  • HIC have the same issues - some open source solutions on GitHub (ansible roles)

    • There is some internet access

    • Stuff gets automatically scanned for viruses - squid proxy controls what users can/can’t access (? maybe I got that wrong)

    • Use of a internal licence server for matlab

    • Researchers put up with the limitations given that it’s the only way they can access the data

    • HIC have ISO27001 accreditation - this includes on prem TRE and extends to the cloud TRE now.

  • KCL: OpenStack at the moment, looking at Azure

  • Virtual box which can access external internet. Also use squid for scanning and filtering

  • A lot of variation in what researchers request - but trying to hold a lot of stuff locally

  • Provide software (~23 applications)

  • Encrypt data

  • Users aren’t allowed to control their own software (for now) but there are exceptions - for example if users need access to specific websites for data

  • Did research on global TREs and generated list of softwares based on this & requested lists from users/asked them to confirm they were happy with it

  • SCCM to allow users to install specific software without admin privileges (though it’s possibly too big for the number of expected users)

  • Manage Engine - Endpoint Central is free for up to 25 devices - above this only £18/year - cheap tool

  • Tools like this are probably useful more widely across the group

  • EPCC - one issue is the scale of setup, for long-term research projects encourage users to set up containers with the relevant software and then import these

  • Also can let users assemble a VM and import this into the environment

  • Some software stacks are complex and impose a huge resource cost onto the admin team - the users can accept the risk of importing that stack into the TRE - users generally happy to work in this way