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December 3, 2012

Innovating In the Cloud

Nicole Hemsoth

By Dale Dunlap and Ravi Kunju

Altair HWOD Cloud Data CenterComputer-Aided Engineering (CAE) has traditionally required significant investment in computing infrastructure. This includes high-end workstations for modeling and visualization (pre- and post-processing) and high-performance compute nodes to solve increasingly more complex problems. This investment can create a barrier for smaller organizations to fully exploit the advantages simulation offers; for larger organizations, it can translate into a struggle to balance CAE workflow efficiency against rising IT costs associated with software, hardware, maintenance and support.

To address these business challenges, companies are turning to cloud computing, a rapidly evolving technology that augments and complements an organization’s overall IT strategy. In general, cloud computing refers to providers delivering hosted services over the Internet on a pay-per-use basis. These services can be in the form of servers (Infrastructure as a Service, IaaS), servers and system software (Platform as a Service, PaaS), or applications and databases (Software as a Service, SaaS). Such a solution is typically available in the form of a private cloud, which is a proprietary network operated by or on behalf of a single organization, or a public cloud, which has shared resources that are managed and operated by a provider outside of an organization’s firewall.

A key driver for cloud computing includes simplifying access to a high-performance computing (HPC) infrastructure, allowing engineers to focus on problem-solving versus how and where their jobs are executed. Cloud computing also allows businesses to forego the IT expense of scaling and supporting internal HPC resources to meet a fluctuating, peak operational demand (much like a utility company).

Altair has innovatively empowered its customers to explore the benefits of CAE cloud computing directly through its HyperWorks engineering software platform. HyperWorks On-Demand™ (HWOD) allows customers to leverage their investment in Altair’s patented licensing system – HyperWorks Units (HWUs) – to run HyperWorks software on a hosted, modern HPC infrastructure via a secure, web-based portal. Launched directly from a standard web browser, HWOD enables engineers to burst to the cloud to run massive simulations so that organizations can easily scale resources to meet growing compute demand.

A Conduit to the Cloud
Today, Altair’s HWU software licensing model enables enterprise-wide access to more than 50 design, engineering, on-demand computing and analytics software titles. With every new software addition to the HWU licensing system, the value of a client’s investment in HWUs increases. As with the introduction of the HyperWorks Partner Alliance Program in 2008, in which Altair partner technologies can be accessed on-demand using HWUs, HWOD is an unprecedented move in the industry to apply a client’s investment in software towards leveraging high-performance cloud computing resources – dramatically increasing the value of their software investment.

HWOD is a multi-tenant service, where each customer (tenant) gains access to dedicated resources within a secure environment. It utilizes the HyperWorks Enterprise Solutions infrastructure, which provides users with an intuitive and powerful interface.

The process is simple and not unlike current CAE workflow processes. Users first generate models for desired simulation events on their desktops. This information is then uploaded through an application-aware web portal. The HWOD portal streamlines the entire job submission process while securely scheduling and efficiently executing compute workload on Altair’s cloud. Automated alerts notify end-users of completed analysis runs for web-based results visualization. Project workloads can be submitted, monitored and reviewed anytime, anywhere.
Promoting Design Innovation

Exploration in the virtual world is broadly dependent on three factors:

  • Creativity of the engineers (the domain experts)
  • Availability of software and compute resources
  • Efficiency of engineering workflow processes

HWOD maximizes creativity and innovation by eliminating the last two barriers. Availability is provided through a secure web portal that automates the scheduling and allocation of HPC resources to run Altair’s world-class solvers for optimization, crashworthiness, NVH studies and multi-body dynamics.

Efficiency of engineering workflow processes is greatly enhanced by eliminating non-value-add tasks associated with job scheduling and monitoring, as well as faster analysis turn-around — allowing more time for design exploration, innovation and optimization.

HWOD currently provides software-as-a-service (SaaS) access to the following solutions:

Additional solutions, including those from Altair’s HyperWorks CAE platform and Partner Alliance program, will be added in the future.

The Power of the Payback

HWOD offers companies an automated way to maximize the flexibility of their computing resources. Scaling up hardware capacity to meet peaks can potentially lead to unused resources and increased cost, while scaling down may increase the risk of program delays. HWOD balances this trade-off offering flexibility and affordability.

More importantly, shorter CAE workflows translate to additional time for engineering departments to create, explore and problem solve, which can result in design patents, cost-saving proposals, and launching on time and within budget. This is the real payback of HWOD for manufacturers.

Just ask Rajiv Menon, director of R&D, Advanced Technologies & CAE, Dorel Juvenile Group, who has experienced Altair’s cloud computing solution. He says, “Altair HyperWorks On-Demand is an excellent solution to Dorel’s growing computational requirements. It provides immediate access to high-performance computing resources at an attractive rate. HyperWorks On-Demand and RADIOSS have become standard tools for product design and validation at Dorel.”

Contact Altair today to learn how we can assist you to meet your growing compute demands.


Footnote: As originally published in Altair’s Concept to Reality magazine’s 2012 Summer/Fall issue.  Dale Dunlap is Director, HPC/Cloud Technology and Ravi Kunju is Managing Director, Enterprise Computing Solutions, Altair.