Year One Brings SMB Success for Digipede

By By Derrick Harris, Editor

August 14, 2006

It has been just over a year since Digipede first began shipping its flagship solution — the Digipede Network — and I recently spoke with CEO John Powers about where the company has come in that time.

If you have been following Grid news lately, you likely have noticed Digipede coming on a pretty regular basis. Just within the last two months, for example, the company has announced as customers two relatively different organizations: Smith Breeden, a financial research and analysis firm, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. When asked what has led to such a wide breadth of customers, Powers points to the simplicity of his company's product versus those of competing vendors.

“I think there's a great number of Grid applications out there where the threshold has been too high,” he said. “People just perceive it as being too difficult to move from a single processor or a dedicated cluster to a grid, and we're out to lower the barriers there so that more and more applications become very simple to move from a single machine to many machines.”

The Army Corps of Engineers, Powers said, is a prime example of simplicity winning out. Although the organization has significant amounts of supercomputing resources and expertise, it perceived the process of adapting this particular storm modeling application as being too complex. However, Powers added, the Corps decided to run the application on the Digipede Network, and was modeling storms within a few days.

Earlier in the year, the mainstream IT world took notice of the Digipede Network, with Software Development magazine giving the solution a four-star rating (out of five). Although the review noted that configuring the first few jobs is not necessarily as easy as advertised, the simplicity of adding new nodes and users is cited as a strength. In addition, the Software & Information Industry Association selected the Digipede Network as a finalist in the “Best Distributed Computing Solution” category in this year's Codie Awards.

Again, Powers chalks this recognition up to the solution's simplicity. “The thing that's been holding Grid computing in a lot of areas has been needless complexity,” he said. Essentially, he added, if you make it easier, people will take notice.

But industry recognition and big-time user adoption aside, Digipede is, in part by design, a company for the little guy. When I spoke with Powers last year about the product's release, he predicted the success his company would see around the Digipede Network Team Edition, which supports up to 20 agents, in the SMB market. Well, one year out, it seems he wasn't lying.

“The SMB market … has been very fruitful for us,” Powers said, “because there are so many specialized applications. Everyone from a boutique finance consultancy to a firm full of architects or engineers — they all have tremendous computing needs, but they don't have very large IT budgets.”

Indeed, Pacific Event Productions, a San Diego-based event planning company, fits that bill. The company, which manages everything from small parties to major corporate events, including Super Bowl XL in Detroit, had migrated to a Web portal so employees could access documents and print as PDF files reports from whatever job site on which they happened to be. However, when many users began logging on simultaneously, with some attempting to print reports of 100- plus pages, Pacific Event's Web server started to experience some serious performance degradation. Enter Digipede.

“We came across the Digipede [Network], and that was just an amazing thing for us because now, instead of having to redesign the entire structure, we can offload those specific requests for processing power to computer systems we currently own,” said Glen Boyer, IT manager for Pacific Event Productions.

The company has offloaded its PDF conversion and subsequent print requests to a team of 10 machines running the Digipede software, and has seen what Boyer calls “tremendous” results. Boyer said machines were selected to run the Digipede agent based on processor speed and idle time, and the Digipede Network is set up to run the biggest jobs on the fastest available machines.

Whereas in the past someone trying to print a 100-page document could have caused a backlog and led to dozens of complaints of slow computers, everything is running smoothly with the Digipede Network in place. “Now, that 100-page job gets put off on computer No. 1, and I have two through 10 that can do the little nickel-and-dime jobs,” said Boyer.

While it is the effectiveness and simplicity of the Digipede Network that has Boyer speaking its praises, it was the pricing model that first caught his attention. Boyer said he looked at several Grid computing solutions, but was put off by pricing models that had you spending $100,000 in the blink of an eye, with prices rising significantly higher with each machine you decide to add. Alternatively, Boyer described Digipede as being “very price-conscious.”

“I can do this million-dollar job for $10,000 with the Digipede system,” said Boyer. “That's the miracle of the system.”

Miraculous? Probably not. Stroke of genius? Perhaps. The low entry-point for the Team Edition is the main draw for SMBs, and Powers realizes just how much potential exists in this market. In speaking about Pacific Event Productions, Powers said the following: “Is that High-Performance Computing? Is that Grid computing? Certainly, it's not the sort of thing that most people talk about in this market, but it certainly is [Grid computing]. How many national labs are there? Now, how many guys like Glen [Boyer] are there? You begin to see where we're getting interest in this market.”

Continued Powers, “Ten machines isn't even a footnote at the national labs, but 10 machines for this guy makes all the difference in the world.”

However, even with all the success the company has seen in the world of SMBs, Powers is quick to note that Digipede is seeing business from large companies, as well. In particular, Powers mentioned a fund management company currently managing more than $100 billion in assets, that has seen increases in both performance and reliability since moving its entire trading analytics platform from an in-house-developed distributed system to the Digipede Network.

“When you build it yourself, you probably only built it for a single purpose, and when you change that purpose it's hard to expand and maintain,” said Powers. “If you're a fund manager, you're core compentency is in computational finance, not in distributed computing.”

Of course, one can't talk about Digipede without mentioning that aside from its low entry-point, the company's other claim to uniqueness is that the Digipede Network is .NET-based and runs only on Microsoft Windows. While this trait separates Digipede from its competitors in the Grid middleware space, it can also serve to isolate. In fact, in a February report by Aidan Biggins of The 451 Group, he writes that Digipede is struggling with attracting ISV partners and, “In the end, Digipede's ongoing credibility could use a commercial nudge from Microsoft or its partners.”

Well, Powers stands by the Microsoft-centric approach, stating that, “We're very happy with the decision we made three years ago to stay with the Microsoft platform because trying to support multiple platforms at once slows down the development cycle and makes it harder to release new features” — something he said Digipede has been doing with regular updates to the solution. As for the push from Microsoft, the release of Windows Compute Cluster Server could offer just that.

Powers said Digipede has been working closely with Microsoft in the marketing and sales of Windows Compute Cluster Server, and at the recent Securities Industry Association Technology Management Conference, Digipede, Microsoft and HP demoed the Digipede Network running on top of Windows Compute Cluster Server with HP ProLiant servers, showing how to speed up everything from .NET applications to spreadsheets. If Digipede can benefit from its partnership with Microsoft, Compute Cluster Server is likely where it will happen.

“In a world where Microsoft has not been considered a High-Performance Computing option, the release of CCS really validates what we've been saying all along: most customers would love to see HPC incorporated more into the mainstream of their existing computing infrastructures,” said Powers. “We think Microsoft has done a terrific job of integrating Compute Cluster Server with the rest of the Windows infrastructure that you find in most companies.”

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Penguin Computing Brings Cascade Lake-AP to OCP Form Factor

July 7, 2020

Penguin Computing, a subsidiary of SMART Global Holdings, Inc., is announcing a new Tundra server, Tundra AP, that is the first to implement the Intel Xeon Scalable 9200 series processors (codenamed Cascade Lake-AP) in t Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Cloud Debuts 16-GPU Ampere A100 Instances

July 7, 2020

On the heels of the Nvidia's Ampere A100 GPU launch in May, Google Cloud is announcing alpha availability of the A100 "Accelerator Optimized" VM A2 instance family on Google Compute Engine. The instances are powered by t Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Q&A: HLRS’s Bastian Koller Tackles HPC and Industry in Germany and Europe

July 6, 2020

HPCwire: Let's start with HLRS and work our way up to the European scale. HLRS has stood out in the HPC world for its support of both scientific and industrial research. Can you discuss key developments in recent years? Read more…

By Steve Conway, Hyperion

The Barcelona Supercomputing Center Offers a Virtual Tour of Its MareNostrum Supercomputer

July 6, 2020

With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to threaten the world and disrupt normal operations, facility tours remain a little difficult to operate, with many supercomputing centers having shuttered facility tours for visitor Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

What’s New in Computing vs. COVID-19: Fugaku, Congress, De Novo Design & More

July 2, 2020

Supercomputing, big data and artificial intelligence are crucial tools in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Around the world, researchers, corporations and governments are urgently devoting their computing reso Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

AWS Solution Channel

Maxar Builds HPC on AWS to Deliver Forecasts 58% Faster Than Weather Supercomputer

When weather threatens drilling rigs, refineries, and other energy facilities, oil and gas companies want to move fast to protect personnel and equipment. And for firms that trade commodity shares in oil, precious metals, crops, and livestock, the weather can significantly impact their buy-sell decisions. Read more…

Intel® HPC + AI Pavilion

Supercomputing the Pandemic: Scientific Community Tackles COVID-19 from Multiple Perspectives

Since their inception, supercomputers have taken on the biggest, most complex, and most data-intensive computing challenges—from confirming Einstein’s theories about gravitational waves to predicting the impacts of climate change. Read more…

OpenPOWER Reboot – New Director, New Silicon Partners, Leveraging Linux Foundation Connections

July 2, 2020

Earlier this week the OpenPOWER Foundation announced the contribution of IBM’s A21 Power processor core design to the open source community. Roughly this time last year, IBM announced open sourcing its Power instructio Read more…

By John Russell

Google Cloud Debuts 16-GPU Ampere A100 Instances

July 7, 2020

On the heels of the Nvidia's Ampere A100 GPU launch in May, Google Cloud is announcing alpha availability of the A100 "Accelerator Optimized" VM A2 instance fam Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Q&A: HLRS’s Bastian Koller Tackles HPC and Industry in Germany and Europe

July 6, 2020

HPCwire: Let's start with HLRS and work our way up to the European scale. HLRS has stood out in the HPC world for its support of both scientific and industrial Read more…

By Steve Conway, Hyperion

OpenPOWER Reboot – New Director, New Silicon Partners, Leveraging Linux Foundation Connections

July 2, 2020

Earlier this week the OpenPOWER Foundation announced the contribution of IBM’s A21 Power processor core design to the open source community. Roughly this time Read more…

By John Russell

Hyperion Forecast – Headwinds in 2020 Won’t Stifle Cloud HPC Adoption or Arm’s Rise

June 30, 2020

The semiannual taking of HPC’s pulse by Hyperion Research – late fall at SC and early summer at ISC – is a much-watched indicator of things come. This yea Read more…

By John Russell

Racism and HPC: a Special Podcast

June 29, 2020

Promoting greater diversity in HPC is a much-discussed goal and ostensibly a long-sought goal in HPC. Yet it seems clear HPC is far from achieving this goal. Re Read more…

Top500 Trends: Movement on Top, but Record Low Turnover

June 25, 2020

The 55th installment of the Top500 list saw strong activity in the leadership segment with four new systems in the top ten and a crowning achievement from the f Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ISC 2020 Keynote: Hope for the Future, Praise for Fugaku and HPC’s Pandemic Response

June 24, 2020

In stark contrast to past years Thomas Sterling’s ISC20 keynote today struck a more somber note with the COVID-19 pandemic as the central character in Sterling’s annual review of worldwide trends in HPC. Better known for his engaging manner and occasional willingness to poke prickly egos, Sterling instead strode through the numbing statistics associated... Read more…

By John Russell

ISC 2020’s Student Cluster Competition Winners Announced

June 24, 2020

Normally, the Student Cluster Competition involves teams of students building real computing clusters on the show floors of major supercomputer conferences and Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Supercomputer Modeling Tests How COVID-19 Spreads in Grocery Stores

April 8, 2020

In the COVID-19 era, many people are treating simple activities like getting gas or groceries with caution as they try to heed social distancing mandates and protect their own health. Still, significant uncertainty surrounds the relative risk of different activities, and conflicting information is prevalent. A team of Finnish researchers set out to address some of these uncertainties by... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Turns Its Massive Crowdsourced Computer Network Against COVID-19

March 16, 2020

For gamers, fighting against a global crisis is usually pure fantasy – but now, it’s looking more like a reality. As supercomputers around the world spin up Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Rallies a Legion of Computers Against the Coronavirus

March 24, 2020

Last week, we highlighted [email protected], a massive, crowdsourced computer network that has turned its resources against the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe – but [email protected] isn’t the only game in town. The internet is buzzing with crowdsourced computing... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Global Supercomputing Is Mobilizing Against COVID-19

March 12, 2020

Tech has been taking some heavy losses from the coronavirus pandemic. Global supply chains have been disrupted, virtually every major tech conference taking place over the next few months has been canceled... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Supercomputer Simulations Reveal the Fate of the Neanderthals

May 25, 2020

For hundreds of thousands of years, neanderthals roamed the planet, eventually (almost 50,000 years ago) giving way to homo sapiens, which quickly became the do Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

DoE Expands on Role of COVID-19 Supercomputing Consortium

March 25, 2020

After announcing the launch of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium on Sunday, the Department of Energy yesterday provided more details on its sco Read more…

By John Russell

Steve Scott Lays Out HPE-Cray Blended Product Roadmap

March 11, 2020

Last week, the day before the El Capitan processor disclosures were made at HPE's new headquarters in San Jose, Steve Scott (CTO for HPC & AI at HPE, and former Cray CTO) was on-hand at the Rice Oil & Gas HPC conference in Houston. He was there to discuss the HPE-Cray transition and blended roadmap, as well as his favorite topic, Cray's eighth-gen networking technology, Slingshot. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Honeywell’s Big Bet on Trapped Ion Quantum Computing

April 7, 2020

Honeywell doesn’t spring to mind when thinking of quantum computing pioneers, but a decade ago the high-tech conglomerate better known for its control systems waded deliberately into the then calmer quantum computing (QC) waters. Fast forward to March when Honeywell announced plans to introduce an ion trap-based quantum computer whose ‘performance’ would... Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

Neocortex Will Be First-of-Its-Kind 800,000-Core AI Supercomputer

June 9, 2020

Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC - a joint research organization of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh) has won a $5 million award Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

‘Billion Molecules Against COVID-19’ Challenge to Launch with Massive Supercomputing Support

April 22, 2020

Around the world, supercomputing centers have spun up and opened their doors for COVID-19 research in what may be the most unified supercomputing effort in hist Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Nvidia’s Ampere A100 GPU: Up to 2.5X the HPC, 20X the AI

May 14, 2020

Nvidia's first Ampere-based graphics card, the A100 GPU, packs a whopping 54 billion transistors on 826mm2 of silicon, making it the world's largest seven-nanom Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Australian Researchers Break All-Time Internet Speed Record

May 26, 2020

If you’ve been stuck at home for the last few months, you’ve probably become more attuned to the quality (or lack thereof) of your internet connection. Even Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

10nm, 7nm, 5nm…. Should the Chip Nanometer Metric Be Replaced?

June 1, 2020

The biggest cool factor in server chips is the nanometer. AMD beating Intel to a CPU built on a 7nm process node* – with 5nm and 3nm on the way – has been i Read more…

By Doug Black

15 Slides on Programming Aurora and Exascale Systems

May 7, 2020

Sometime in 2021, Aurora, the first planned U.S. exascale system, is scheduled to be fired up at Argonne National Laboratory. Cray (now HPE) and Intel are the k Read more…

By John Russell

Summit Supercomputer is Already Making its Mark on Science

September 20, 2018

Summit, now the fastest supercomputer in the world, is quickly making its mark in science – five of the six finalists just announced for the prestigious 2018 Read more…

By John Russell

TACC Supercomputers Run Simulations Illuminating COVID-19, DNA Replication

March 19, 2020

As supercomputers around the world spin up to combat the coronavirus, the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) is announcing results that may help to illumina Read more…

By Staff report

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This