Birmingham Environment for Academic Research


The Birmingham Environment for Academic Research (BEAR) is a collection of complimentary IT resources managed by IT Services that are designed to help research, all of which are free at the point of use. The procurement for the current suite of services resulted in a framework agreement with OCF, IBM, Adaptive Computing, Mechdyne and IOCOM who bring different areas of expertise to the overall research environment.

Currently the components of BEAR are:

  • BlueBEAR, our Linux-based batch processing High Performance Computing (HPC) cluster
  • BEAR Windows, a Windows-based HPC service
  • BEAR database service . The service runs on MariaDB which is compatible with MySQL. The service runs in a high-availability cluster and is available both from the BlueBEAR cluster and from the campus network.
  • BEAR View, offering visualisation, collaboration and large scale videoconferencing facilities including a 4meter by 2meter display screen, 2 and 3-D imaging and movement tracking.
Data Visualisation allows the user the opportunity to visualise raw data in 3D on the Powerwall display. A user is able to present to an individual or a group (up to 9 seats) their scientific data in true stereo.  The user and the audience would each put on a pair of active shutter glasses, allowing them to see in stereo 3D. To partake in this arrangement, the BEARView team would like to have the data a number of days beforehand, to ensue suitable preparation is possible, and the quality of output is achievable. Scientific data model files generated from application software for example ABAQUS or ANSYS CFD suite ((CFX, ICEM CFD, Fluent) must be converted to .VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language) file to be visualised. Contact IT Service Desk at to arrange a visualisation session in BearView.
  • BEAR Plus, additional computational resources available to Birmingham researchers through the regional MidPlus consortium and other national resources. Some of these national resources may be paid-for services
  • BEAR Hosting, a hosting service for servers or storage purchased by research groups through the BEAR framework. For such purchases, compute nodes and storage are charged at component prices; costs for all supporting infrastructure (racks, switches and of course electricity) are usually met by IT Services.

Planned developments include

  • BEAR Render, a compute cluster optimised for rendering images and videos
  • BEAR Store, a data archive for long term storage, particularly of data associated with publications and a Research Data Store (RDS) for work-in-progress and offering dropbox-type facilities for collaboration both on and off campus

Any problems or questions should be logged with the IT Service Desk at This ensures that they reach the most appropriate person and tracked. This also allow any common areas of concern to be identified and addressed as well as addressing the individual support requests.

To justify ongoing funding for this service it is essential that outcomes such as publications and/or grant awards are recognised by the University. Please complete a brief on-line form to give us this information.

Last modified: 21 January 2015

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