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September 14, 2010
At the ISC Cloud event next month in Frankfurt, Germany, Microsoftian Dan Reed is scheduled to deliver the keynote address, titled Technical Clouds: Seeding Discovery. With the copious title of Corporate Vice President Technology Strategy and Policy & Extreme Computing, Reed directs Microsoft's R&D for parallel and extreme-scale computing, and has a commanding view of all things cloudy in Redmond. His keynote, as you might imagine, will focus on the how the cloud model can facilitate scientific discovery.
In an interview with Reed published today in HPC in the Cloud, he previews his ISC Cloud keynote, and zeros in on the main advantage cloud computing offers the researcher:
[T]he cloud phenomenon offers an opportunity to fundamentally rethink how we approach scientific discovery, just as the switch from proprietary HPC systems to commodity clusters did. It’s about simplifying and democratizing access, focusing on science, discovery and usability. As with any transition, there are issues to be worked out, behavioral models to adapt and technologies to be optimized. However, the opportunities are enormous.
Cloud computing has the potential to provide massively scalable services directly to users which could transform how research is conducted, accelerating scientific exploration, discovery and results.
Reed's point is that clouds can make computing a scalable service, rather than an adventure in infrastructure management. Given that HPC setups are among the most difficult to design, maintain and operate, it seems like there should be an extra incentive for those users to adopt the cloud model. Part of the problem is cultural and the tendency for HPC thinking to be dominated by the users of at the top end. As Reed says:
I believe our focus has been too skewed toward the very high end of the supercomputing spectrum. While this apex of computing is very important, it only addresses a small fraction of working researchers. Most scientists do small scale computing, and we need to support them and let them do science, not infrastructure.
Reed also offers his perspective on the roles of public and private clouds and how to deal with large scientific datasets in the cloud.
Full story at HPC in the Cloud
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