It seems hardly a week passes without some news of HPC being delivered as an on-demand service. That topic includes everything from in-house grids to commercial clouds, but it’s the cloud element that’s grabbing the attention of the supercomputing crowd.
Of course, the Sun Utility Grid (network.com) has been in operations for awhile, but, to date, has only managed to attract a handful of commercial software vendors to its platform. And IBM’s Deep Computing On Demand service has slowly been collecting customers and expanding capabilies. But the latest trend seems to be individual ISVs arranging their own HPC on-demand services or just offering hooks into established grids. That’s not to say new compute grids aren’t popping up as well.
Here’s a roundup of recent developments:
In April, Interactive Supercomputing (ISC) launched its on-demand service for its flagship Star-P offering. The Star-P platform allows MATLAB and Python users to parallelize their applications for HPC hardware. ISC’s on-demand service uses Linux clusters from Tsunamic Technologies. The San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) also has made Star-P available to researchers and scientists on one of its modest-sized (128 processors) clusters.
Last month, the MathWorks came out with support for built-in support for running applications on the European EGEE grid (Enabling Grids for E-sciencE) and the ability to tap into Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). With a user base of around a million developers, The MathWorks could have a big impact on pushing HPC’ers into the cloud.
A couple of weeks ago, Singapore Computer Systems (SCS) launched its grid computing service — called Alatum. The platform has already attracted at least one HPC customer: Vestas Technology R&D Singapore. Vestas’ business involves harnessing wind power for energy and it is running HPC apps on the Alatum grid to support the company’s research and development.
And finally, this week’s cloud computing honors go to Wolfram Research, developer of Mathematica. The company is teaming with Nimbus Services and R Systems to provide Mathematica in the cloud. According to the press release, Nimbis Services will enable the Mathematica cloud service to access a range of HPC systems, including TOP500 supercomputers and the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud. This one looks like it’s still in the development stage, but like the MATLAB offering, delivering Mathematica as a service has the potential to bring a lot of technical computing into the cloud.
While HPC in the cloud still feels more like a drizzle than a downpour, things seem to be picking up. In a couple weeks at SC08 in Austin, there are a handful of cloud computing presentations planned, including a panel on Friday, Nov. 21 with Ian Foster (Argonne National Laboratory), Gerrit Huizenga (IBM Corporation), Thomas Sterling (Louisiana State University), and Peter DeSantis (Amazon). If you’re at all interested in this subject, that’s probably the session to attend. Maybe I’ll see you there.