On the Origin of Utility Computing, Pt. 2

By By Derrick Harris, Editor

October 1, 2007

In Part 2 of our look at what has become of utility computing, we focus on two utility solutions that have redefined what the term means.

Since the idea of utility computing first came to be, the assumption by most was that it had to be an outsourced service, just like the energy utility from which it takes its name. As is prone to happen, however, utility computing has evolved into some forms — including some located within a user’s own datacenter — that bear little resemblance to their not-so-ancient ancestors. Companies like Cassatt and 3Tera are among a group of vendors who are out to show that as long as you have on-demand access to your resources — when you need them and at the level you need them — you have utility computing.

Turning Your Datacenter Into a Utility

No matter how appealing the prospect of having mission-critical applications and services run externally, and thus saving on the associated management costs, an outsourced model of utility computing just isn’t an option for some customers, particularly those with ultra-sensitive customer data. Luckily for them, Cassatt has taken it upon itself to give businesses the utility attributes they crave in-house.

According to director of product management and marketing Ken Oestreich, Cassatt’s definition of utility computing includes abilities around: pooling all datacenter resources (compute and network) in a software- and hardware-agnostic manner; controlling that pool with a set of user-defined policies; and metering of capacity, utilization and cost. (At Cassatt, said Oestreich, “It’s not a utility if it doesn’t have meter.”) Also inherent — and, in fact, necessary — in a utility model is capacity on-demand. “The negative definition of utility computing,” he elaborated, “is: You don’t have a separate capacity manager, and you don’t have a separate high availability manager. They’re part of the fabric or part of the inherent infrastructure.”

This vision has been realized in Collage, Cassatt’s “datacenter operating system” that was designed from the ground-up with these capabilities in mind. Among its more unique traits is the fact that Collage, unlike comparable solutions offering a “cloud” or “pool” of resources, does not rely on virtualization. In fact, said Oestreich, although it does support virtualization in a platform-agnostic manner, Collage doesn’t require customers wishing to move workloads to utilize virtualization at all. “We’re saying, ‘Whatever you have in your datacenter today, virtualized or not, whatever platform you have, you should be able to make that cloud.’”

This is accomplished, Oestreich explained, by capturing images of workload (from the operating system on up), removing the hardware-specific data and repopulating that data specific to the new machine. Even in this world of seemingly omnipresent virtualization, Oestreich said the folks behind Collage realized that users running certain data-sensitive applications, such as big scale-out databases, want to move workloads around as demand dictates without suffering the performance hits that come with running them on virtual machines.

Another big differentiator with Collage is the metering function, which takes many variables into account, thus enabling IT departments to bill other departments or lines of business on a per service basis versus a standard per usage or per machine basis. In addition, Collage’s meter also differs from many others in terms of monitoring. Whereas many metering tools are designed simply to display status and alerts, Oestreich says Collage allows users to monitor capacity on a datacenter-wide basis (against user-defined service levels), opening up the abilities to meter utilization and forecast capacity.

Cassatt currently has about a dozen customers, including in the financial services and government sectors, and is doing a good number of proofs-of-concept, and response has been overwhelmingly positive thus far, said Oestreich. That being said, he pointed out that while the technology generally wows potential customers — to the point where the company is starting to develop starting points that allow customers who can’t digest it all at once to start slower — organizational issues do arise on occasion. “The ‘gotcha,’ if you will, is there’s one thing utility computing offers that customers aren’t ready for,” explained Oestreich, “… which is because you’re pooling resources, because you’re sharing infrastructure, customer organizations aren’t always ready for it.” To deal with this issue, Cassatt has partnered with technology consultant BearingPoint, who helps customers ease the pain (if you can call it that) of consolidating their numerous silos, as well as the resources required to manage them.

Not surprisingly, even Cassatt acknowledges that its cutting-edge technology and unique take on utility computing are still in the early adoption phase. However, said Oestreich, the more people become comfortable with virtualization, the more they are becoming comfortable with concepts like automation and utility computing. While it might be a few years before technologies like Collage reach the current adoption level of virtualization, Oestreich said pioneers, as well as everyone with a big datacenter, already are asking about Cassatt’s utility vision.

Bringing a Utility Hosting Star In-House

In yet another example of how the notion of utility computing has evolved to encompass in-house versions as well as outsourced ones, 3Tera has decided to sell its previously-available-only-to-hosting-providers AppLogic software direct to end-users.

According to Bert Armijo, 3Tera vice president of marketing and product management, this notion came about after demonstrating the Super Grid with Layered Technologies (see www.gridtoday.com/grid/1758320.html), when several customers — including banks, insurance companies and very large social networks — that would not fit into the hosting customer demographic began inquiring about getting AppLogic in their datacenters. Although outsourcing computing isn’t too real a possibility for these customers, Armijo said their underlying needs are the same: to eliminate the annoyance and expense associated with deploying dedicated resources for every application a company runs.

Considering that, by Armijo’s estimate, a decent-sized IT company is likely running several thousand applications, the traditional model equates to tremendous labor and time expenditures maintaining these resources. AppLogic solves this problem by allowing users to define a set of infrastructure components — CPU, firewall, load balancer, etc. — for an application and then run it on a fairly generic set of resources. The big difference between AppLogic and other solutions, says Armijo, is that AppLogic users operate at an application level and can add or remove resources from an application as needed without dealing with the individual server level. In fact, users can move applications from one datacenter to another with a single command.

In the name of being a true utility, AppLogic does have provisions for SLAs by increasing the number of instances or the amount of resources to each instance, and the in-house version includes the ability to proactively provision resources to lines of business or individual operators, or to meter resources by application or account. Armijo sees AppLogic’s utility capabilities being far more relevant to the software’s business case than its grid computing capabilities, which also are touted in any product literature.

At 3Tera, he said, they refer to “grid” strictly from a hardware infrastructure perspective, because actual grid computing requires applications to be written in specific languages, using specific toolkits and operating systems, that aren’t conducive to running normal, transactional applications. Grid computing’s hardware set-up was married with virtualization to create AppLogic. “The traditional grid has been around for quite a while and showed the world, quite frankly, how you could, in fact, get to utility computing,” added Armijo.

At the end of the day, though, AppLogic is a very forward-thinking solution (with a user interface that resembles a Microsoft Visio drawing), and while the kind of clamor that led to the in-house release might have come a little earlier than anticipated, the company definitely expected there to be demand for it at some point. “If you think about what any large IT operation is facing today in terms of dealing with the sprawl of servers, [or] datacenter upgrades to pull in more power,” said Armijo, “this makes absolute sense and doesn’t surprise me in any way.”

—–

To read Part 1 of this article, which discusses Sun Microsystems’ Network.com and Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud, click here.

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!

Hyperion: AI-driven HPC Industry Continues to Push Growth Projections

November 21, 2019

Three major forces – AI, cloud and exascale – are combining to raise the HPC industry to heights exceeding expectations. According to market study results released this week by Hyperion Research at SC19 in Denver, Read more…

By Doug Black

At SC19: Bespoke Supercomputing for Climate and Weather

November 20, 2019

Weather and climate applications are some of the most important uses of HPC – a good model can save lives, as well as billions of dollars. But many weather and climate models struggle to run efficiently in their HPC en Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Microsoft, Nvidia Launch Cloud HPC Service

November 20, 2019

Nvidia and Microsoft have joined forces to offer a cloud HPC capability based on the GPU vendor’s V100 Tensor Core chips linked via an InfiniBand network scaling up to 800 graphics processors. The partners announced Read more…

By George Leopold

Hazra Retiring from Intel Data Center Group, Successor Not Known

November 20, 2019

Rajeeb Hazra, corporate VP of Intel’s Data Center Group and GM for the Enterprise and Government Group, is retiring after more than 24 years at the company. At this writing, his successor is unknown. An earlier story on... Read more…

By Doug Black

Jensen Huang’s SC19 – Fast Cars, a Strong Arm, and Aiming for the Cloud(s)

November 20, 2019

We’ve come to expect Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang’s annual SC keynote to contain stunning graphics and lively bravado (with plenty of examples) in support of GPU-accelerated computing. In recent years, AI has joined the s Read more…

By John Russell

AWS Solution Channel

Making High Performance Computing Affordable and Accessible for Small and Medium Businesses with HPC on AWS

High performance computing (HPC) brings a powerful set of tools to a broad range of industries, helping to drive innovation and boost revenue in finance, genomics, oil and gas extraction, and other fields. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Data Management – The Key to a Successful AI Project

 

Five characteristics of an awesome AI data infrastructure

[Attend the IBM LSF & HPC User Group Meeting at SC19 in Denver on November 19!]

AI is powered by data

While neural networks seem to get all the glory, data is the unsung hero of AI projects – data lies at the heart of everything from model training to tuning to selection to validation. Read more…

SC19 Student Cluster Competition: Know Your Teams

November 19, 2019

I’m typing this live from Denver, the location of the 2019 Student Cluster Competition… and, oh yeah, the annual SC conference too. The attendance this year should be north of 13,000 people, with the majority attende Read more…

By Dan Olds

Hyperion: AI-driven HPC Industry Continues to Push Growth Projections

November 21, 2019

Three major forces – AI, cloud and exascale – are combining to raise the HPC industry to heights exceeding expectations. According to market study results r Read more…

By Doug Black

At SC19: Bespoke Supercomputing for Climate and Weather

November 20, 2019

Weather and climate applications are some of the most important uses of HPC – a good model can save lives, as well as billions of dollars. But many weather an Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Hazra Retiring from Intel Data Center Group, Successor Not Known

November 20, 2019

Rajeeb Hazra, corporate VP of Intel’s Data Center Group and GM for the Enterprise and Government Group, is retiring after more than 24 years at the company. At this writing, his successor is unknown. An earlier story on... Read more…

By Doug Black

Jensen Huang’s SC19 – Fast Cars, a Strong Arm, and Aiming for the Cloud(s)

November 20, 2019

We’ve come to expect Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang’s annual SC keynote to contain stunning graphics and lively bravado (with plenty of examples) in support of GPU Read more…

By John Russell

Top500: US Maintains Performance Lead; Arm Tops Green500

November 18, 2019

The 54th Top500, revealed today at SC19, is a familiar list: the U.S. Summit (ORNL) and Sierra (LLNL) machines, offering 148.6 and 94.6 petaflops respectively, Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ScaleMatrix and Nvidia Launch ‘Deploy Anywhere’ DGX HPC and AI in a Controlled Enclosure

November 18, 2019

HPC and AI in a phone booth: ScaleMatrix and Nvidia announced today at the SC19 conference in Denver a joint offering that puts up to 13 petaflops of Nvidia DGX Read more…

By Doug Black

Intel Debuts New GPU – Ponte Vecchio – and Outlines Aspirations for oneAPI

November 17, 2019

Intel today revealed a few more details about its forthcoming Xe line of GPUs – the top SKU is named Ponte Vecchio and will be used in Aurora, the first plann Read more…

By John Russell

SC19: Welcome to Denver

November 17, 2019

A significant swath of the HPC community has come to Denver for SC19, which began today (Sunday) with a rich technical program. As is customary, the ribbon cutt Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Supercomputer-Powered AI Tackles a Key Fusion Energy Challenge

August 7, 2019

Fusion energy is the Holy Grail of the energy world: low-radioactivity, low-waste, zero-carbon, high-output nuclear power that can run on hydrogen or lithium. T Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Using AI to Solve One of the Most Prevailing Problems in CFD

October 17, 2019

How can artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing (HPC) solve mesh generation, one of the most commonly referenced problems in computational engineering? A new study has set out to answer this question and create an industry-first AI-mesh application... Read more…

By James Sharpe

Cray Wins NNSA-Livermore ‘El Capitan’ Exascale Contract

August 13, 2019

Cray has won the bid to build the first exascale supercomputer for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Lawrence Livermore National Laborator Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

DARPA Looks to Propel Parallelism

September 4, 2019

As Moore’s law runs out of steam, new programming approaches are being pursued with the goal of greater hardware performance with less coding. The Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency is launching a new programming effort aimed at leveraging the benefits of massive distributed parallelism with less sweat. Read more…

By George Leopold

AMD Launches Epyc Rome, First 7nm CPU

August 8, 2019

From a gala event at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco yesterday (Aug. 7), AMD launched its second-generation Epyc Rome x86 chips, based on its 7nm proce Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

D-Wave’s Path to 5000 Qubits; Google’s Quantum Supremacy Claim

September 24, 2019

On the heels of IBM’s quantum news last week come two more quantum items. D-Wave Systems today announced the name of its forthcoming 5000-qubit system, Advantage (yes the name choice isn’t serendipity), at its user conference being held this week in Newport, RI. Read more…

By John Russell

Ayar Labs to Demo Photonics Chiplet in FPGA Package at Hot Chips

August 19, 2019

Silicon startup Ayar Labs continues to gain momentum with its DARPA-backed optical chiplet technology that puts advanced electronics and optics on the same chip Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Crystal Ball Gazing: IBM’s Vision for the Future of Computing

October 14, 2019

Dario Gil, IBM’s relatively new director of research, painted a intriguing portrait of the future of computing along with a rough idea of how IBM thinks we’ Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

ISC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
GOOGLE
GOOGLE
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL

Cray, Fujitsu Both Bringing Fujitsu A64FX-based Supercomputers to Market in 2020

November 12, 2019

The number of top-tier HPC systems makers has shrunk due to a steady march of M&A activity, but there is increased diversity and choice of processing compon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Confirms Retreat on Omni-Path

August 1, 2019

Intel Corp.’s plans to make a big splash in the network fabric market for linking HPC and other workloads has apparently belly-flopped. The chipmaker confirmed to us the outlines of an earlier report by the website CRN that it has jettisoned plans for a second-generation version of its Omni-Path interconnect... Read more…

By Staff report

Kubernetes, Containers and HPC

September 19, 2019

Software containers and Kubernetes are important tools for building, deploying, running and managing modern enterprise applications at scale and delivering enterprise software faster and more reliably to the end user — while using resources more efficiently and reducing costs. Read more…

By Daniel Gruber, Burak Yenier and Wolfgang Gentzsch, UberCloud

Dell Ramps Up HPC Testing of AMD Rome Processors

October 21, 2019

Dell Technologies is wading deeper into the AMD-based systems market with a growing evaluation program for the latest Epyc (Rome) microprocessors from AMD. In a Read more…

By John Russell

Rise of NIH’s Biowulf Mirrors the Rise of Computational Biology

July 29, 2019

The story of NIH’s supercomputer Biowulf is fascinating, important, and in many ways representative of the transformation of life sciences and biomedical res Read more…

By John Russell

Xilinx vs. Intel: FPGA Market Leaders Launch Server Accelerator Cards

August 6, 2019

The two FPGA market leaders, Intel and Xilinx, both announced new accelerator cards this week designed to handle specialized, compute-intensive workloads and un Read more…

By Doug Black

Intel Debuts New GPU – Ponte Vecchio – and Outlines Aspirations for oneAPI

November 17, 2019

Intel today revealed a few more details about its forthcoming Xe line of GPUs – the top SKU is named Ponte Vecchio and will be used in Aurora, the first plann Read more…

By John Russell

When Dense Matrix Representations Beat Sparse

September 9, 2019

In our world filled with unintended consequences, it turns out that saving memory space to help deal with GPU limitations, knowing it introduces performance pen Read more…

By James Reinders

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