Licensed to Bill?

By Addison Snell, InterSect360

April 8, 2010

HPC Application Software Vendors Begin to Adapt to the Demands of Utility, SaaS, and Cloud Computing

At a casual glance it seems the entire High Performance Computing industry is going gung ho on clouds. HPC system vendors are launching cloud-enabled infrastructure services. Middleware providers offer solutions for migrating applications to public, private, or hybrid clouds. And end users are intrigued to learn how they might maintain capability while reducing capital expenditures. “You mean I don’t have to worry about the cost and maintenance of all that infrastructure? Sign me up!”

Amidst the seemingly ubiquitous fanfare announcing the arrival of a new can’t-lose paradigm, it would be almost forgivable to overlook what should be a plot-turning question. What, specifically, are you going to run in the cloud?
 
Faced with mounting pressure from partners and end users in the HPC community, application software vendors are striving to cope with what it means to offer their software as a service. To learn more about the potential for cloud expansion, InterSect360 Research has been conducting a study of the outlook of SaaS and cloud computing models among the HPC ISV community.
 
One thing is clear: ISVs are nearly unanimous in recognizing a customer demand for cloud computing models of some type, and they also generally recognize cloud as a growth opportunity, at least in the long term. However, there are significant limitations hindering the potential transition to clouds.
 
ISV Applications in the Cloud, Now and Then
 
With so much potential interest from end users, many application software vendors have already implemented flexible licensing models that allow cloud or utility computing access. The majority of ISVs interviewed thus far have already implemented some type of utility, SaaS, grid, or cloud licensing option for at least one of their HPC applications, and the industry has already recognized some utility computing successes. HPCwire recently publicized the use of Exa PowerFLOW computational fluid dynamics simulations in optimizing the performance of the eventual gold medal–winning U.S. four-man bobsled; that software was run on hardware leased through the IBM OnDemand program.
 
But this is not a new phenomenon. Grid computing has been around for more than 10 years, and utility computing models predate grids. IBM has been offering OnDemand services for years, and other hardware vendors have (or used to have) similar programs. And many new “cloud” offerings are based on repackaged, remarketing grid technologies that are suddenly gaining new attention.
 
There is certainly new technology in cloud; in particular, the ability to use a web browser to gain access to resources distinguishes cloud from grid. InterSect360 Research defines cloud computing as accessing part of an organization’s IT infrastructure or workflow through a web (or web-like) interface. This definition uses the web interface (or “web-like,” in the case of some intranets) to distinguish cloud from grid and other utility computing methodologies, and it specifies applications by what role they play in the organization. At the boundary, an application like Salesforce.com replaces part of an organization’s workflow and can be considered a cloud application, whereas the Fishville game on Facebook is a Web 2.0 application but not part of the player’s IT infrastructure or workflow, and therefore Fishville is not considered to be cloud computing.
 
Precise definitions notwithstanding, there seems to be a clear opportunity for offering utility or SaaS licensing models. Yet even among those ISVs that are actively pursuing cloud, most don’t see the opportunity exceeding 10% of their software revenue in the next two to three years, due to the inherent barriers in adoption.
 
Barriers to HPC SaaS
 
Across all vertical markets in HPC, the software vendors we interviewed consistently named two concerns that prevent organizations from running applications in the cloud: data movement and data security. These issues are potential problems for any application, but for commercial ISV codes they can be crucial, because end users cannot risk the loss of control of their core intellectual property.
 
“Our customers are asking us for cloud implementations of our software, but design security remains a significant barrier,” said Andy Biddle, Product Marketing Director at Magma Design Automation, makers of the Talus and Titan applications for EDA markets. “We don’t think cloud models will contribute significantly to our revenue this year or next year. Maybe in five or ten years, but not soon.”
 
Another factor cited as a major hurdle by some ISVs but not at all by others is the creation of the licensing models, including a methodology for protecting the licenses in the cloud. The bifurcation stems from the differences in how applications are sold in the absence of cloud: ISVs that have time-based or site-based licensing schemes tend not to have a problem with utility licensing, whereas those that have licensed applications strictly by core, socket, or node tend to see the creation of cloud-friendly licensing models as a barrier.
 
These barriers are not insurmountable. ANSYS is one example of a company that has recently introduced new HPC licensing options for its customers, designed to enable use of its software on hardware located anywhere, by end users located anywhere. But in this case, ANSYS still does not see its users clamoring to relinquish complete control of their codes.
 
“Our customers involved in engineering simulation clearly need flexibility to access computing infrastructure however it makes most sense for them – down the hall, across the planet, rented in the ‘cloud’ or owned, ” said Barbara Hutchings, Director of Strategic Partnerships at ANSYS. “They need flexibility to use licenses wherever hardware is available and to address peak-capacity needs. ANSYS and our HPC industry partners support this flexible deployment today with the goal of enabling more customers to use HPC and gain enhanced insight to drive product development decisions.”
 
SaaS: A Business Opportunity for ISVs?
 
For end users who are adopting cloud, there is a question then of what parts of their infrastructure or workflow they wish to outsource. Platform as a service (PaaS) or infrastructure as a service (IaaS) models do not necessarily imply the outsourcing of software, and private clouds do not necessarily imply that organizations are leasing instead of owning. This distinctions between IaaS and SaaS and between public and private clouds is currently a significant limiting factor in the move toward HPC SaaS. Many organizations are implementing internal clouds, but they are using licenses they already have – site licenses, time-based licenses, or even token-based usage licenses – to run their ISV applications internally on a utility basis. In the case of private clouds, the hardware and software might all be owned, but the end user within the organization is ambivalent to the back-end infrastructure.
 
Similarly, IaaS models move organizations into cloud computing in a way that does not imply SaaS. In some cases they may have hardware on-site that is leased on an as-used or on-demand basis, but the software applications are owned. This type of workflow is cloud but not SaaS and does not require any modification in ISV licensing approaches.
 
An open question then is whether cloud computing, via SaaS, represents an increase in the total business opportunity for ISVs. Here it is important to emphasize that cloud computing is not a market or industry in itself. Rather it is a methodology for accessing part of an infrastructure or workflow that in most cases already existed. That is, users were already running the applications one way, and now they’re going to run them a different way.
 
That said there is the potential for organizations to realize increased application usage through SaaS. One scenario for this is “cloud-bursting” – using either a public or private cloud to access additional cycles during peak workload times. This structure appeals to established HPC application users who want to do more than their current infrastructure allows without increasing their capital outlay, and it may represent the most significant near-term opportunity. But although cloud computing is currently in vogue, utility computing models have offered this benefit in the past, and it has never become a significant dynamic across the HPC industry.
 
Another potential business model is for cloud computing to enable new entrants into HPC by reducing the costs associated with hardware and software. This is a nice idea but falls short of addressing some of the more significant barriers for new entrants to HPC: creation of digital models and synchronization with physical testing, plus the considerable social aspect of changing a workflow within an organization. Merely reducing cost is a necessary but insufficient condition for driving HPC adoption, and until an ISV (or another type of host) is capable of offering a more complete “digital workflow as a service,” it will be difficult for SaaS alone to drive new HPC adoption.
 
Yes, cloud is a major phenomenon in HPC. Yes, ISVs are under a lot of pressure to offer SaaS and utility licensing models. Yes, many of them have reacted to this already. But nevertheless, the application software vendor community is probably correct in predicting that cloud will not have a dramatic impact on their business in the immediate term, as the majority of cloud adopters explores private clouds and IaaS models before it moves to HPC SaaS.
 
For now, the IT community is running hell-for-leather to adopt cloud computing. As for what they’ll actually run in the cloud? By the time the user community is ready to move its data into the cloud, application software vendors should be ready.
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!

Google Launches New Machine Learning Journal

March 22, 2017

On Monday, Google announced plans to launch a new peer review journal and “ecosystem” Read more…

By John Russell

Swiss Researchers Peer Inside Chips with Improved X-Ray Imaging

March 22, 2017

Peering inside semiconductor chips using x-ray imaging isn’t new, but the technique hasn’t been especially good or easy to accomplish. Read more…

By John Russell

LANL Simulation Shows Massive Black Holes Break “Speed Limit”

March 21, 2017

A new computer simulation based on codes developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory is shedding light on how supermassive black holes could have formed in the early universe contrary to most prior models which impose a limit on how fast these massive ‘objects’ can form. Read more…

Quantum Bits: D-Wave and VW; Google Quantum Lab; IBM Expands Access

March 21, 2017

For a technology that’s usually characterized as far off and in a distant galaxy, quantum computing has been steadily picking up steam. Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HFT Firms Turn to Co-Location to Gain Competitive Advantage

High-frequency trading (HFT) is a high-speed, high-stakes world where every millisecond matters. Finding ways to execute trades faster than the competition translates directly to greater revenue for firms, brokerages, and exchanges. Read more…

Intel Ships Drives Based on 3-D XPoint Non-volatile Memory

March 20, 2017

Intel Corp. has begun shipping new storage drives based on its 3-D XPoint non-volatile memory technology as it targets data-driven workloads. Read more…

By George Leopold

Researchers Recreate ‘El Reno’ Tornado on Blue Waters Supercomputer

March 16, 2017

The United States experiences more tornadoes than any other country. About 1,200 tornadoes touch down each each year in the U.S. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Trump Budget Targets NIH, DOE, and EPA; No Mention of NSF

March 16, 2017

President Trump’s proposed U.S. fiscal 2018 budget issued today sharply cuts science spending while bolstering military spending as he promised during the campaign. Read more…

By John Russell

CPU-based Visualization Positions for Exascale Supercomputing

March 16, 2017

In this contributed perspective piece, Intel’s Jim Jeffers makes the case that CPU-based visualization is now widely adopted and as such is no longer a contrarian view, but is rather an exascale requirement. Read more…

By Jim Jeffers, Principal Engineer and Engineering Leader, Intel

Quantum Bits: D-Wave and VW; Google Quantum Lab; IBM Expands Access

March 21, 2017

For a technology that’s usually characterized as far off and in a distant galaxy, quantum computing has been steadily picking up steam. Read more…

By John Russell

Trump Budget Targets NIH, DOE, and EPA; No Mention of NSF

March 16, 2017

President Trump’s proposed U.S. fiscal 2018 budget issued today sharply cuts science spending while bolstering military spending as he promised during the campaign. Read more…

By John Russell

CPU-based Visualization Positions for Exascale Supercomputing

March 16, 2017

In this contributed perspective piece, Intel’s Jim Jeffers makes the case that CPU-based visualization is now widely adopted and as such is no longer a contrarian view, but is rather an exascale requirement. Read more…

By Jim Jeffers, Principal Engineer and Engineering Leader, Intel

US Supercomputing Leaders Tackle the China Question

March 15, 2017

Joint DOE-NSA report responds to the increased global pressures impacting the competitiveness of U.S. supercomputing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

New Japanese Supercomputing Project Targets Exascale

March 14, 2017

Another Japanese supercomputing project was revealed this week, this one from emerging supercomputer maker, ExaScaler Inc., and Keio University. The partners are working on an original supercomputer design with exascale aspirations. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Debuts HGX-1 for Cloud; Announces Fujitsu AI Deal

March 9, 2017

On Monday Nvidia announced a major deal with Fujitsu to help build an AI supercomputer for RIKEN using 24 DGX-1 servers. Read more…

By John Russell

HPC4Mfg Advances State-of-the-Art for American Manufacturing

March 9, 2017

Last Friday (March 3, 2017), the High Performance Computing for Manufacturing (HPC4Mfg) program held an industry engagement day workshop in San Diego, bringing together members of the US manufacturing community, national laboratories and universities to discuss the role of high-performance computing as an innovation engine for American manufacturing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD Expands Exascale Vision at IEEE HPC Symposium

March 7, 2017

With the race towards exascale heating up – for example, the Exascale Computing Program PathForward awards are expected soon – AMD delivered more details of its exascale vision at last month’s 23rd IEEE Symposium on High Performance Computer Architecture. The chipmaker presented an “Exascale Node Architecture (ENA) as the primary building block for exascale machine” including descriptions of component, interconnect, and packaging strategy along with simulation benchmarks to bolster its case. Read more…

By John Russell

For IBM/OpenPOWER: Success in 2017 = (Volume) Sales

January 11, 2017

To a large degree IBM and the OpenPOWER Foundation have done what they said they would – assembling a substantial and growing ecosystem and bringing Power-based products to market, all in about three years. Read more…

By John Russell

TSUBAME3.0 Points to Future HPE Pascal-NVLink-OPA Server

February 17, 2017

Since our initial coverage of the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer yesterday, more details have come to light on this innovative project. Of particular interest is a new board design for NVLink-equipped Pascal P100 GPUs that will create another entrant to the space currently occupied by Nvidia's DGX-1 system, IBM's "Minsky" platform and the Supermicro SuperServer (1028GQ-TXR). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Tokyo Tech’s TSUBAME3.0 Will Be First HPE-SGI Super

February 16, 2017

In a press event Friday afternoon local time in Japan, Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) announced its plans for the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer, which will be Japan’s “fastest AI supercomputer,” Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Wants to be “Red Hat” of Deep Learning

January 26, 2017

IBM today announced the addition of TensorFlow and Chainer deep learning frameworks to its PowerAI suite of deep learning tools, which already includes popular offerings such as Caffe, Theano, and Torch. Read more…

By John Russell

Lighting up Aurora: Behind the Scenes at the Creation of the DOE’s Upcoming 200 Petaflops Supercomputer

December 1, 2016

In April 2015, U.S. Department of Energy Undersecretary Franklin Orr announced that Intel would be the prime contractor for Aurora: Read more…

By Jan Rowell

Is Liquid Cooling Ready to Go Mainstream?

February 13, 2017

Lost in the frenzy of SC16 was a substantial rise in the number of vendors showing server oriented liquid cooling technologies. Three decades ago liquid cooling was pretty much the exclusive realm of the Cray-2 and IBM mainframe class products. That’s changing. We are now seeing an emergence of x86 class server products with exotic plumbing technology ranging from Direct-to-Chip to servers and storage completely immersed in a dielectric fluid. Read more…

By Steve Campbell

Enlisting Deep Learning in the War on Cancer

December 7, 2016

Sometime in Q2 2017 the first ‘results’ of the Joint Design of Advanced Computing Solutions for Cancer (JDACS4C) will become publicly available according to Rick Stevens. He leads one of three JDACS4C pilot projects pressing deep learning (DL) into service in the War on Cancer. Read more…

By John Russell

BioTeam’s Berman Charts 2017 HPC Trends in Life Sciences

January 4, 2017

Twenty years ago high performance computing was nearly absent from life sciences. Today it’s used throughout life sciences and biomedical research. Genomics and the data deluge from modern lab instruments are the main drivers, but so is the longer-term desire to perform predictive simulation in support of Precision Medicine (PM). There’s even a specialized life sciences supercomputer, ‘Anton’ from D.E. Shaw Research, and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center is standing up its second Anton 2 and actively soliciting project proposals. There’s a lot going on. Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

HPC Startup Advances Auto-Parallelization’s Promise

January 23, 2017

The shift from single core to multicore hardware has made finding parallelism in codes more important than ever, but that hasn’t made the task of parallel programming any easier. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Technique Propels Deep Learning at Scale

February 21, 2017

Researchers from Baidu’s Silicon Valley AI Lab (SVAIL) have adapted a well-known HPC communication technique to boost the speed and scale of their neural network training and now they are sharing their implementation with the larger deep learning community. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CPU Benchmarking: Haswell Versus POWER8

June 2, 2015

With OpenPOWER activity ramping up and IBM’s prominent role in the upcoming DOE machines Summit and Sierra, it’s a good time to look at how the IBM POWER CPU stacks up against the x86 Xeon Haswell CPU from Intel. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Sees Bright Future for AI Supercomputing

November 23, 2016

Graphics chipmaker Nvidia made a strong showing at SC16 in Salt Lake City last week. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IDG to Be Bought by Chinese Investors; IDC to Spin Out HPC Group

January 19, 2017

US-based publishing and investment firm International Data Group, Inc. (IDG) will be acquired by a pair of Chinese investors, China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co., Ltd. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

US Supercomputing Leaders Tackle the China Question

March 15, 2017

Joint DOE-NSA report responds to the increased global pressures impacting the competitiveness of U.S. supercomputing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Trump Budget Targets NIH, DOE, and EPA; No Mention of NSF

March 16, 2017

President Trump’s proposed U.S. fiscal 2018 budget issued today sharply cuts science spending while bolstering military spending as he promised during the campaign. Read more…

By John Russell

Intel and Trump Announce $7B for Fab 42 Targeting 7nm

February 8, 2017

In what may be an attempt by President Trump to reset his turbulent relationship with the high tech industry, he and Intel CEO Brian Krzanich today announced plans to invest more than $7 billion to complete Fab 42. Read more…

By John Russell

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This