Ivy Secure Environment


Ivy is a secure computing environment for researchers consisting of virtual machines (Linux and Windows) and Domino Data Lab. Researchers can use Ivy to process and store sensitive data with the confidence that the environment is secure and meets HIPAA requirements.


Ivy consists of two separate computing environments. Access to one environment does not automatically grant access to the others:

Requesting Access

Access to Ivy resources is project-based, limited to PIs and their designees, and requires approval. Once a project is approved a PI and her/his researchers must sign a RUDA (one for every researcher on each project).


Ivy resources will be provided without a fee for approved projects. Please note that the pricing model is still under evaluation. A valid PTAO is required as part of the account request process, although no charges will be made without advanced notice to the PI.

Connecting and Signing In

1 Authentication

You will sign in to all Ivy resources using your UVA computing ID and Eservices password. Because of Ivy's high security requirements, your Eservices password must be changed every 60 days.

Need help resetting your Eservices password?

If you are working from a secure Health Systems workstation you are ready to connect. You need an Identity Token and JointVPN connection as described in the following if you are outside of the secure HS network.

2 Identity Token

To connect to the Ivy environment with VPN you will need a physical USB identity token, issued to you by the ISPRO Access Management Office. Tokens must be requested, approved, and may take from 1-2 weeks for delivery. You must pick up and activate your token in person, with proof of identification. Your token will have its own password in order to be used.

3 Joint VPN

With your UVA computing ID, Eservices password, and USB identity token in hand, you must run the Cisco AnyConnect software to start a JointVPN connection every time you use any Ivy resource. AnyConnect will authenticate to the UVA network using a digital certificate installed on your workstation.

More information on VPN from ITS:

Virtual Machines

A virtual machine (VM) is a computing instance dedicated to your project. Multiple users can sign into a single VM.

Virtual machines come in two platforms, CentOS7 Linux and Windows Server 2012R2. Each platform is available in three instance types. Refer to the grid below for specifics.

Type CPU Memory
Small 4 cores 16GB
Medium 8 cores 32GB
Large 16 cores 128GB

Once created, your instance will be assigned a private IP address that you will use to connect to it (in the format 10.xx.xx.xx). VMs exist in a private, secure network and cannot reach outside resources on the Internet. Most inbound and outbound data transfer is managed through the Data Transfer Node (see below).

Connecting to your VM

To connect to your VM, you must install either an SSH client to connect to your VM using the command-line interface (CentOS VMs only), or remote desktop software to connect to the desktop GUI of your VM. These options are outlined below.

MacOSX Users:

  • Terminal (for SSH, built-in. Can be found in Applications -> Utilities -> Terminal)
  • x2goclient (for remote desktop to CentOS VMs, download here)
  • Other RDP clients (for remote desktop to Windows VMs, download here)

Windows Users:

Linux Users:

  • Terminal / Command (for SSH, built-in)
  • x2goclient (for remote desktop to CentOS VMs, download here)
  • Other remote desktop clients can be used (for Windows VMs)

To connect to Ivy follow the platform-specific steps below:

CentOS 7 Linux
  • Open your JointVPN connection
  • Reference the IP address of your Ivy VM.
  • For SSH access:
      ssh uva-id@ip-address
  • For Remote Desktop access: Start the x2goclient to the IP address of your VM and sign in.
  • Open your JointVPN connection
  • Reference the IP address of your Ivy VM.
  • For Remote Desktop access: Start an RDP client to the IP address of your VM and sign in with your Eservices password and your computing ID prefixed by ESERVICES as the user name (i.e. ESERVICES\mst3k)


Every virtual machine (Linux or Windows) comes with a base installation of software by default. These help researchers by providing the basic tools for data processing and manipulation. Additional software packages are pre-approved and available for installation upon request. See the lists below for options.

If you require additional software not listed, you must submit a request. Requests are reviewed by the UVA ISPRO office for security and regulatory compliance and, if approved, will be installed for you.

Python/R Packages - Anaconda Python and R packages are available to users through the normal pip, conda, and CRAN and library installation methods.

Click on each for details:

ADDITIONAL Windows Groups
Click on each for details:


Ivy VM has a pool of over 2 petabytes of Network Attached Storage shared amongst users. A PI specifies the storage space s/he would like to have when requesting access to Ivy. Virtual machines do not come with any significant disk storage of their own.

Learn More

Domino Data Lab

Domino Data Lab (DDL) provides a central environment for data science projects including project management, collaboration with team members, and setting up hardware configuration for a project.


DDL is entirely browser-based and does not require any setup on your workstation. Once connected via JointVPN, point your browser to:


You will be prompted for Domino login credentials, which correspond to your UVa computing ID and Eservices password. Please remember that in order to maintain access to any platform on Ivy (including DDL), you will need to change your Eservices password every 60 days.


Each DDL project can accommodate up to 500 gigabytes of storage. Central storage is not visible to DDL.


DDL is organized in a project structure, which is ideal for collaborative data analyses. Scripts written in Python and R can be edited, scheduled and run from within the web interface, both inside and outside of interactive notebook sessions (i.e. RStudio or Jupyter).

For specifics about these features and more, refer to the Ivy DDL User Guide.

Learn More

Data Transfer In/Out of Ivy

Moving sensitive data into the Ivy VMware platform is possible through a secure Globus DTN (data transfer node). The Ivy DTN is connected to a pool of secure storage called “Ivy Central Storage” (ICS), which in turn is connected to Ivy VMs. Only active research projects using Ivy virtual machines can use this service. DDL users do not have access to Ivy Central Storage.

Ivy Secure DTN Flow

Learn More

HIPAA Compliance

The Ivy platform is HIPAA compliant by design. From the UVA Institutional Review Board for Health Sciences Research (IRB-HSR):

HIPAA affects only that research which uses, creates, or discloses PHI. Researchers have legitimate needs to use, access, and disclose PHI to carry out a wide range of health research studies.

The Privacy Rule protects PHI while providing ways for researchers to access and use PHI when necessary to conduct research.

In general, there are two types of human research that would involve PHI:

  • Studies involving review of existing medical records as a source of research information. Retrospective studies, such as chart reviews, often do this. Sometimes prospective studies do it also, for example, when they contact a participant's physician to obtain or verify some aspect of the participant's health history.
  • Studies that create new medical information because a health care service is being performed as part of the research, such as testing of a new way of diagnosing a health condition or a new drug or device for treating a health condition. Virtually all sponsored clinical trials that submit data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will involve PHI.

Researchers must understand that, in general, the more difficult parts of HIPAA compliance are less technical (networks, computers, and data) than they are human and how users interact with these systems and data. The mishandling of data – such as storing them on insecure devices or in insecure places – jeopardizes confidential patient data and UVA’s ability to remain a trusted keeper of those data.

All data imported into Ivy must be treated as highly sensitive data. Data and results exported from Ivy must be protected and managed appropriately according to UVA’s data classification guidelines. Guidance regarding these guidelines and data types is available from UVA Information Security, Policy, and Records Office (ISPRO) by emailing it-security@virginia.edu.

Coming Soon - Secure HPC

In 2019 we will launch a secure high performance computing system. This will support computationally-intensive research for sensitive data, within the Ivy secure environment.