The End of IT as We Know It … Thanks, Virtualization

By Derrick Harris

December 3, 2007

If I learned one thing from the time I spent at last week’s Gartner Data Center conference, it’s that the greater IT community still isn’t entirely on board with the family of technologies this publication holds near and dear, but it will jump on soon enough — and virtualization will spur it along.

Kicking off the event with a keynote titled “The Future of Infrastructure and Operations,” analyst Thomas Bittman predicted that virtualization will be the most “impactful” infrastructure and operations technology through 2012, and that it will help to transition IT into what Gartner is calling the real-time infrastructure (RTI) era. Virtualization will play this facilitator role, he said, because aside from simply being used to consolidate servers, virtualization technology enables the layers of abstraction necessary for alternative delivery models like grid computing, SaaS and cloud computing, all of which will touch different parts of the RTI elephant.

Until we achieve the nirvana that is RTI, however, we should prepare to see virtualization impact everything, said Bittman in a later session, from costs to rollout time to shared services. For example, while Gartner research finds that only 6 percent of virtualization-friendly workloads are actually running in virtualized environments, this number will increase sharply as we approach Gartner’s prediction of 4 million x86-based virtual machines by 2009. We also should expect to see, among other virtualization-based innovations, an increase in software appliances (essentially, pre-packaged applications complete with their own virtual operating systems) and employee-owned PCs that contain locked-down, virtual environments for job-related applications and tasks.

Bittman also predicts virtualization will continue to have a disruptive effect on software licensing as workloads begin to move dynamically across both physical and virtual machines. Illustrating the current state of licensing as it relates to virtualization, an impromptu survey of attendees in the packed MGM Grand meeting room showed 28 percent partaking in custom negotiations for licensing their virtualized environments, 24 percent saying licensing issues have limited their virtualization efforts, and 21 percent claiming virtual licensing concerns are affecting software choices.

Gartner analyst Carl Claunch also sang the praises of virtualization in his keynote highlighting the “Top Ten Disruptive Technologies Affecting the Data Center.” Calling virtualization a “Swiss Army knife tool” for IT, Claunch said it is a “real disservice” to consider virtualization as a technology only to be used for consolidation or slicing up servers. The layers of abstraction that virtualization enables, he commented, are great for eliminating the “dense spiderwebs” of interdependencies in the datacenter, and the ability of virtualization to make hardware generic leads to on-the-fly movement of work. In addition, virtualization can accomplish the opposite of slicing up servers, instead allowing users to aggregate resources to resemble one big SMP machine.

This latter use of virtualization is not unlike the concept of server fabrics, which Claunch also cited as a disruptive technology. A step beyond blades, server fabrics are most realistic as entirely virtualized blade racks that users can partition to create whatever size or type of systems they need in terms of memory, CPUs, I/O, etc. Not surprisingly, I/O virtualization plays a big role in making server fabrics realize their full potential.

Speaking of the aforementioned cloud computing (because how could a week go by without doing so), Bittman also shared his thoughts on the technology, its current state and how it fits into the RTI concept. RTI, he explained, is all about creating a service-oriented infrastructure where IT is shared across users, divisions, applications and beyond. The ultimate realization of a cloud of computing resources where service requirements go in and services come out — all transparently — fits right into what RTI is looking to accomplish, but for now, believes Bittman, cloud computing is pretty much a way to achieve scale. There is a lot of smoke, he said, but little fire, as current (and recently announced) offerings simply lack the service level management and the policy enforcement capabilities needed for a mature, enterprise-ready solution. However, he said, cloud computing certainly is “pointing toward the future” and certainly is a strategy to be aware of in the years to come.

Personally, I’m inclined to agree with Bittman about the current state of cloud computing as it relates to doing it on a grand scale — a la Google — but I believe it will be a reality in the datacenter sooner than some might expect. IBM, for its part, understands that baby steps are necessary, and therefore is planning for its first Blue Cloud offering to be in the form of an IBM BladeCenter — far from a Web-scale collection of servers. What’s more, solutions like Appistry’s Enterprise Application Fabric (or GigaSpaces XAP or DataSynapse FabricServer, to name a few) already do a good job forming “clouds” and allowing for high availability, and they’re improving every day when it comes to policy-based automation and SLAs. Obviously, there is some work to be done along the lines of education and open standards before niche solutions like this become widespread, but I believe the foundation of cloud computing already has been laid.

For those of you interested in scale, I would suggest reading our interview with ScaleOut Software founder and CEO William Bain. Distributed caching solutions are gaining in popularity, but not everybody is aware of all the players in the space; most of us tend to focus on the more well-known vendors like GigaSpaces and Tangosol (now part of Oracle) and GemStone. However, other companies are doing their own things to deliver massive scale and low latency, and Bain does a nice job of differentiating ScaleOut from the others.

I also should point to our special section, featuring two articles relating to the Open Grid Forum’s activities at last month’s SC07 conference. OGF is doing some great work toward achieving interoperability among both enterprise and production grids, and they showcased both initiatives in Reno. As I mentioned when the original announcements were made during the show, the grid market has come a long way by having major middleware and job-scheduling solutions being able to interoperate.

As for the rest of this week’s issue, make sure to check out the following items, as well as any others that might be up your alley: “HealthAlliance Hospital Implements IBM Grid Archiving”; “ObjectWave Launches Data Caching Developer Framework”; “SAS, Sun Launch Datacenter BI Initiative”; “DMTF Creates Open Standard for Virtualization Management”; “Fujitsu, Citrix Cut Cost of Datacenter Scalability”; and “NCSA to Host Workshop on Datacenter Design.”

—–

Comments about GRIDtoday are welcomed and encouraged. Write to me, Derrick Harris, at [email protected].

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!

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 components with Intel Xeon, AMD Epyc, IBM Power, and Arm server ch Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

SIA Recognizes Robert Dennard with 2019 Noyce Award

November 12, 2019

If you don’t know what Dennard Scaling is, the chances are strong you don’t labor in electronics. Robert Dennard, longtime IBM researcher, inventor of the DRAM and the fellow for whom Dennard Scaling was named, is th Read more…

By John Russell

Leveraging Exaflops Performance to Remediate Nuclear Waste

November 12, 2019

Nuclear waste storage sites are a subject of intense controversy and debate; nobody wants the radioactive remnants in their backyard. Now, a collaboration between Berkeley Lab, Pacific Northwest National University (PNNL Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Using HPC and Machine Learning to Predict Traffic Congestion

November 12, 2019

Traffic congestion is a never-ending logic puzzle, dictated by commute patterns, but also by more stochastic accidents and similar disruptions. Traffic engineers struggle to model the traffic flow that occurs after accid Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Mira Supercomputer Enables Cancer Research Breakthrough

November 11, 2019

Dynamic partial-wave spectroscopic (PWS) microscopy allows researchers to observe intracellular structures as small as 20 nanometers – smaller than those visible by optical microscopes – in three dimensions at a mill Read more…

By Staff report

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

IBM Adds Support for Ion Trap Quantum Technology to Qiskit

November 11, 2019

After years of percolating in the shadow of quantum computing research based on superconducting semiconductors – think IBM, Rigetti, Google, and D-Wave (quantum annealing) – ion trap technology is edging into the QC Read more…

By John Russell

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

IBM Adds Support for Ion Trap Quantum Technology to Qiskit

November 11, 2019

After years of percolating in the shadow of quantum computing research based on superconducting semiconductors – think IBM, Rigetti, Google, and D-Wave (quant Read more…

By John Russell

Tackling HPC’s Memory and I/O Bottlenecks with On-Node, Non-Volatile RAM

November 8, 2019

On-node, non-volatile memory (NVRAM) is a game-changing technology that can remove many I/O and memory bottlenecks and provide a key enabler for exascale. Th Read more…

By Jan Rowell

MLPerf Releases First Inference Benchmark Results; Nvidia Touts its Showing

November 6, 2019

MLPerf.org, the young AI-benchmarking consortium, today issued the first round of results for its inference test suite. Among organizations with submissions wer Read more…

By John Russell

Azure Cloud First with AMD Epyc Rome Processors

November 6, 2019

At Ignite 2019 this week, Microsoft's Azure cloud team and AMD announced an expansion of their partnership that began in 2017 when Azure debuted Epyc-backed ins Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Launches Credit Card-Sized 21 TOPS Jetson System for Edge Devices

November 6, 2019

Nvidia has launched a new addition to its Jetson product line: a credit card-sized (70x45mm) form factor delivering up to 21 trillion operations/second (TOPS) o Read more…

By Doug Black

In Memoriam: Steve Tuecke, Globus Co-founder

November 4, 2019

HPCwire is deeply saddened to report that Steve Tuecke, longtime scientist at Argonne National Lab and University of Chicago, has passed away at age 52. Tuecke Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Spending Spree: Hyperscalers Bought $57B of IT in 2018, $10B+ by Google – But Is Cloud on Horizon?

October 31, 2019

Hyperscalers are the masters of the IT universe, gravitational centers of increasing pull in the emerging age of data-driven compute and AI.  In the high-stake Read more…

By Doug Black

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

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

Intel Debuts Pohoiki Beach, Its 8M Neuron Neuromorphic Development System

July 17, 2019

Neuromorphic computing has received less fanfare of late than quantum computing whose mystery has captured public attention and which seems to have generated mo 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

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

With the Help of HPC, Astronomers Prepare to Deflect a Real Asteroid

September 26, 2019

For years, NASA has been running simulations of asteroid impacts to understand the risks (and likelihoods) of asteroids colliding with Earth. Now, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are preparing for the next, crucial step in planetary defense against asteroid impacts: physically deflecting a real asteroid. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

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