HPC, the Cloud, and Core Competency

By Scott Clark

April 11, 2010

What does HPC have to do with cloud computing? Well, given that HPC environments are constantly growing, consume large quantities of fairly generic compute resources, and have both peaks and valleys in workload profiles, it would seem that HPC would be the perfect candidate for cloud computing, if only we could get past the barriers to adoption.

What I would like to do is present a series of blogs, intended to be a philosophical framing, not a technical roadmap, that will show why HPC is the perfect consumer of cloud computing. These blogs will be broken up into distinct topics in an attempt to create a logical progression aimed at having a common frame of reference. The initial set of blogs will address the barriers to adoption as follows:
 
1.      Ego – IT as a core competency
2.      Cost – getting more value for the same money
3.      Trust – a historical lesson
4.      Control – changes to organizational structure
5.      Security – perspectives on internal security
6.      Performance – realities of simultaneous optimization theory
 
Once we frame the barriers, we can then discuss incremental steps to get to value:
 
1.      Cloud enablement – transforming your environment, internal private cloud
2.      Private Clouds – external private clouds
3.      Hybrid Configurations – leveraging public clouds for appropriate workloads
4.      Public clouds – where and when they may make sense
 
This is the intended general direction, but I reserve the right to deviate based on input from the forum, any needed clarification, or recalibration necessary to stay true to intent of the site.
 
Having said that, let’s move into the first topic of discussion, IT as a core competency.
 
Companies need IT to be executed competently, and to control IT direction, but IT is not the primary product of the company (IT companies aside), and therefore should not be considered a core competency. We can debate tying into the primary function (core business) of the company as a criteria to determine core competency, but I believe it goes to the investment decision process of the company leadership. The primary drivers for the business revolve around delivering product to customers, development of new markets, and customer relationship management. When given the option of where to invest critical resources and assets in the business, executive management will be driven to primarily invest in the direction of the core business, and minimize expenses around all other aspects of the running of the business. Core competency would imply sufficient investment to differentiate the business from the rest of the world.
 
Further reinforcement of these concepts can be seen by looking at where IT is accounted for within the business. Quite commonly, IT is accounted as an SG&A function. This places it into the “overhead” bucket and it gets to compete with facilities, HR, accounting, purchasing, and all other groups that make up the SG&A bucket for the company in order to get resources. I only say this to frame the mindset of financial decisions. Given that companies are measured by how well they control expenses in SG&A (SG&A as a function of revenue), and that many of the components of the SG&A bucket are fixed or based on headcount, you then start to see that budgets for IT are scrutinized with a control oriented mindset, optimized on the cost variable. The R&D side is usually the “spend money to make money” side of the house, where SG&A is driven to control or even cut costs.  Having said that, I have also not met anyone who can flip between these mindsets.
 
In order to control costs as much as possible and to get as much value out of what is spent in the area of IT, most companies take the approach to limit change and hire resources with a breadth of skills as compared to a depth of skills in a specific area. They will attempt to limit change in order to get maximum value out of existing assets, maximize the ability to automate, and to minimize the quantity of personnel required to manage. By limiting change like this though, it defeats the ability of technology to ultimately deliver maximized value. Also, by limiting change, the organization is really promoting a philosophy of maintenance instead of development, and in doing that, many times symptoms will be addressed (just patch it up) instead of the root cause.
 
Additionally, by hiring generalists, the business accomplishes many things, like having the ability to solve any problem in the environment while minimizing overhead staff in addition to having the ability to have fault tolerance in personnel resources (people can take vacations, get sick, or leave for another position). The downside is that many times these generalist resources are attempting to mange the infrastructure, but lack the experience on new technologies that are brought in to properly manage them(they have not have the opportunity to gain experience). Solutions that they develop or integrate are more prone to configuration or design mistakes (doing it for the first time), are many times less efficient solutions than what is possible (not optimized), and are not designed to scale into the future with technologies that are not yet available to solve problems that have yet to surface. And finally, the complexity of the environment is growing faster than the capacity of the organization.
 
This is not to say that internal IT organizations are not excellent, that the personnel are not very talented, or that these organization don’t bring great value to the companies they work for. The only point is that there is more value that could be achieved, and that the company does not (and should not) invest in this function like they do the core product(s) of the company. How many times have we all sat in on meetings listening vendors explain to us what the “perfect solution” is, and knowing that they are right because we thought of it a long time ago, but just have not had the time, funding, resources, and priority to go execute that “perfectly”. Cloud computing has the promise to grant us access to that optimized, “perfect” solution, and next time, we will talk about getting that solution for the same price we are paying for IT today…
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!

ABB Upgrades Produce Up to 30 Percent Energy Reduction for HPE Supercomputers

June 6, 2020

The world’s supercomputers are currently allied in a common goal: defeating COVID-19. To analyze the billions upon billions of molecules that might produce helpful therapeutics (or even a vaccine), an unimaginable amou Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Supercomputers Take to the Solar Winds

June 5, 2020

The whims of the solar winds – charged particles flowing from the Sun’s atmosphere – can interfere with systems that are now crucial for modern life, such as satellites and GPS services – but these winds can be d Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

HPC in O&G: Deep Sea Drilling – What Happens Now   

June 4, 2020

At the beginning of March I attended the Rice Oil & Gas HPC conference in Houston. That seems a long time ago now. It’s a great event where oil and gas specialists join with compute veterans and the discussion tell Read more…

By Rosemary Francis

NCSA Wades into Post-Blue Waters Era with Delta Supercomputer

June 3, 2020

NSF has awarded the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) $10 million for its next supercomputer - named Delta – “which will kick-start NCSA’s next generation of supercomputers post-Blue Waters,” Read more…

By John Russell

Dell Integrates Bitfusion for vHPC, GPU ‘Pools’

June 3, 2020

Dell Technologies advanced its hardware virtualization strategy to AI workloads this week with the introduction of capabilities aimed at expanding access to GPU and HPC services via its EMC, VMware and recently acquired Read more…

By George Leopold

AWS Solution Channel

Join AWS, Univa and Intel for This Informative Session!

Event Date: June 18, 2020

More enterprises than ever are turning to HPC cloud computing. Whether you’re just getting started, or more mature in your use of cloud, this HPC Cloud webinar is an excellent opportunity to gain valuable insights and knowledge to help accelerate your HPC cloud projects. Read more…

Supercomputers Streamline Prediction of Dangerous Arrhythmia

June 2, 2020

Heart arrhythmia can prove deadly, contributing to the hundreds of thousands of deaths from cardiac arrest in the U.S. every year. Unfortunately, many of those arrhythmia are induced as side effects from various medicati Read more…

By Staff report

NCSA Wades into Post-Blue Waters Era with Delta Supercomputer

June 3, 2020

NSF has awarded the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) $10 million for its next supercomputer - named Delta – “which will kick-start NCS Read more…

By John Russell

Indiana University to Deploy Jetstream 2 Cloud with AMD, Nvidia Technology

June 2, 2020

Indiana University has been awarded a $10 million NSF grant to build ‘Jetstream 2,’ a cloud computing system that will provide 8 aggregate petaflops of comp Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

COVID-19 HPC Consortium Expands to Europe, Reports on Research Projects

May 28, 2020

The COVID-19 HPC Consortium, a public-private effort delivering free access to HPC processing for scientists pursuing coronavirus research – some utilizing AI Read more…

By Doug Black

$100B Plan Submitted for Massive Remake and Expansion of NSF

May 27, 2020

Legislation to reshape, expand - and rename - the National Science Foundation has been submitted in both the U.S. House and Senate. The proposal, which seems to Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Boosts Deep Learning Accuracy on Memristive Chips

May 27, 2020

IBM researchers have taken another step towards making in-memory computing based on phase change (PCM) memory devices a reality. Papers in Nature and Frontiers Read more…

By John Russell

Hats Over Hearts: Remembering Rich Brueckner

May 26, 2020

HPCwire and all of the Tabor Communications family are saddened by last week’s passing of Rich Brueckner. He was the ever-optimistic man in the Red Hat presiding over the InsideHPC media portfolio for the past decade and a constant presence at HPC’s most important events. Read more…

Nvidia Q1 Earnings Top Expectations, Datacenter Revenue Breaks $1B

May 22, 2020

Nvidia’s seemingly endless roll continued in the first quarter with the company announcing blockbuster earnings that exceeded Wall Street expectations. Nvidia Read more…

By Doug Black

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

SC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

AMD
AMD
ASROCK RACK
ASROCK RACK
AWS
AWS
CEJN
CJEN
CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
IBM
IBM
MELLANOX
MELLANOX
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
SIX NINES IT
SIX NINES IT
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL
WEKAIO
WEKAIO

Contributors

Tech Conferences Are Being Canceled Due to Coronavirus

March 3, 2020

Several conferences scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, including Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference (GTC) and the Strata Data + AI conference, have Read more…

By Alex Woodie

Exascale Watch: El Capitan Will Use AMD CPUs & GPUs to Reach 2 Exaflops

March 4, 2020

HPE and its collaborators reported today that El Capitan, the forthcoming exascale supercomputer to be sited at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and serve Read more…

By John Russell

Cray to Provide NOAA with Two AMD-Powered Supercomputers

February 24, 2020

The United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) last week announced plans for a major refresh of its operational weather forecasting supercomputers, part of a 10-year, $505.2 million program, which will secure two HPE-Cray systems for NOAA’s National Weather Service to be fielded later this year and put into production in early 2022. 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

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

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

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

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

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