Overview: Costs and billing in Terra (GCP)

Yashasvika Duggal
  • Updated

Terra runs on the Google Cloud and you pay for the cloud storage and analysis resources you use with a Google Cloud Billing account linked to a Terra Billing Project. Once you set up billing, Terra takes care of interfacing with Google Cloud. This article is a big picture overview of how to set up billing in Terra under different scenarios.

For step-by-step instructions on how to set up a Google Cloud account and link it to Terra, see How to set up billing in Terra.

To learn more about the structure of billing in Terra, including what costs money and who pays, see Terra costs and billing (GCP) details.

Paying for cloud costs in Terra

What is free

There is no charge for Terra platform infrastructure, administration, built-in security mechanisms or frontline support. The community forum is available to help you 24/7, free of charge.

Cloud resources costs

The costs of working in Terra are standard GCP fees for storing and moving data as well as executing an analysis (bulk workflow or interactive Jupyter notebook). GCP fees consumed in Terra are passed along with no markup. Billing account owners can check expenses at any time on the Google Cloud Billing console.    

Read on for more cost information and how to set up the associated billing in Terra, depending on your funding source and who will be managing your billing.  

Diagram explaining how to set up billing in different situations. The left-most column shows a choice between paying with a credit card (with options for a self-managed account or a third-party reseller) and paying with a grant (with options for an NIH grant, another funding source, or a collaborator's grant). The general strategy for setting up billing is highlighted in blue boxes for each of these situations.

New to cloud computing? Try $300 in Google Cloud credits 

Google cloud credits are a way to try the platform and see if it's right for you before committing your own money. Google offers $300 in credits to new users signing up for billing on Google Cloud.

Free credits detailsFor step-by-step instructions on claiming $300 of Google Cloud dollars to use on Terra, see Set up billing with $300 Google credits to explore Terra.  Once you claim the $300 credits, you can link your Google account to Terra, create a Terra Billing project, and start exploring in a new workspace. 

Free-tier users are limited to five workspaces. See The top reason for stalled workflows: Resource quota issues for more details. 

NIH funding (STRIDES credits) in Terra

Participants in programs such as the BioData Catalyst pilot program will have program credits through STRIDES loaded on a pre-associated Google Cloud Billing account. These credits can be used for all storage, compute and egress charges on the Terra platform.   

For step-by-step instructions, see How to access STRIDES credits in Terra.

Collaborating with someone on Terra? Two ways to share billing 

If you're working with someone who has already set up billing in Terra, you may be able to access their billing resources. The two options - Collaborating in a shared workspace or using a shared Terra Billing project - are outlined below.

For more information about controlling shared lab costs, including sharing workspaces and shared billing, see Best practices for managing shared funding.

  • Collaborating in a shared workspace

    • Costs in Terra are billed to the workspace Billing Project - it doesn't matter who does the work.
    • If a colleague shares a workspace with you and assigns you "WRITER can-compute" access, you will be able to move data into and out of the workspace bucket, store data, and run analyses within that workspace.
    • All charges for these operations will be paid by your colleague's Billing Project, which is assigned to the workspace when it's created.

    To learn more, see Managing access to shared data and tools or Sharing data and tools with workspace access controls.

  • Using a shared Terra Billing project

    You will need to have access to a Terra Billing Project to create or clone a workspace of your own. However, you don't necessarily need your own billing project!

    When and how to access a shared Billing project

    • Billing Project owners can add and remove Billing Project users in their Terra Billing page
    • You may be able to access a colleague's existing Project.
    • This may apply, for example, if you are joining a research group that is already working in Terra.
    • You'll need to ask the Billing Project owner to add you using the steps in How to add/remove collaborators on a Terra Billing Project.

    What to expect

    Once you are a designated Billing Project user, the Project will appear in your Billing page and in the drop-down menu when you create or clone a workspace. All costs incurred in the workspaces you create will be covered by the colleague's Billing Project.

    Owners can edit any user's role and delete users from a Billing project at any time by clicking on the Billing project from the list (access Billing from the User Profile drop-down in the main navigation menu at the top left). 

    To learn more about using a shared Terra Billing project, see Best practices for managing shared team funding.

Terra resources that don't cost (you) anything to use

You do not need access to your own billing to browse Terra or work in a collaborator's workspace. However, you won't be able to create or work in your own workspace without setting up a Google Cloud Billing account linked to your Google (Terra) ID. 

Some things you can do without your own billing 

  1. Browse tutorial workspaces and open-access data (no Google Cloud costs)
    These resources will be available to view in the Library after you register. Note: To run a workflow or interactive analysis, you need to make your own copy of the tutorial, linked to your own Billing project.
  2. Work in shared workspaces with "can-compute" permission (owner pays all Cloud costs)
    If a Terra user - such as a collaborator or PI - shares a workspace with you and grants you WRITER (can-compute) access, you can run workflows and interactive analyses within that workspace. All charges incurred will be paid by the workspace owner’s Terra Billing Project.

Next steps and additional resources

For step-by-step instructions to set up a Google Cloud billing account, link it to Terra, and create a Terra Billing Project, see How to set up billing in Terra

Create (clone) a workspace

Congratulations on setting up your Terra billing! You should now be able to create or clone a workspace to work on the Terra platform. For step-by-step instructions, see How to clone your own workspace. Your Terra Billing project should appear in the dropdown menu in the workspace creation modal. 

Need more than five workspaces? Request a project quota increase.

There is a limit on how many Google projects you can have in a single Google Cloud Billing account (the default is five), and Terra creates a Google project for each workspace. It's a little unfortunate that they're both called "projects", since the Terra Billing project is not at all connected to the Google project.

Because most Terra users will want more than five workspaces, we recommend requesting a project quota increase right away when you set up your paid Cloud Billing account. Quota increases can take several days to process and must be made by the individual. 

For additional details, see When workspace creation fails: Google project quotas.

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