Yes, You Too Can Eclipse Netflix

By Nicole Hemsoth

April 21, 2010

When we’re talking about strict hardware-related HPC, defining high-performance computing is usually straightforward. However, when we extend the concept of HPC into the cloud and then to even further complicate the matter by adding in discussion about how HPC and cloud are being utilized in commercial and large-scale enterprise class settings, the roots of those concrete hardware definitions start to peel away.

Every business wants supercomputer capacity on-demand. And who could really blame them? It seems that most enterprises need vast, scalable capacity to remain competitive. For smaller businesses, getting competitive out of the gate is finally an option since the law of “he with the most start-up capital for tech infrastructure wins” is on the wane.

After skimming some HPC and cloud-related news I chose, at first anyway, to ignore, I started to think about these things a little more in-depth. With a big group of engineers coupled with some general HPC backing, cloud power, and an Ultra Marketing Bot 5000 (not a real product but thought a Nexus 6 Publicity Model would have been too vague), could just anyone compete with a company like, say, Netflix?

If every enterprise’s capacity suddenly becomes unlimited, then does it all just boil down to who has the best architects and the finest sales force to convince the world it’s better than what already exists in droves?

Netflix Cloud Adoption in the News

When I first saw this New York Times news story about Netflix’s shift to the cloud I was reticent to draw everyone’s attention to it by sticking into the “This Just In” section here on HPC in the Cloud because it didn’t seem…relevant. After all, this is the mail-order movie business — the post office is involved, for crying out loud. Where’s the gritty HPC in that?

But you know, I didn’t think my omission of Netflix through, so I decided to go back and revisit it in this blog.

So rewind and let’s retroactively pop this into the April 18th This Just In…

When Netflix announced that it had moved into the public cloud space and was housing some of its operations with Amazon Web Services, the burning question was to what extent their operations had gone to the cloud already and how much — what percentage, that is — would be heading cloud-ward over the two-year implementation.

The New York Times and others touted this as a use case of a large-scale data-intensive operation going full-blown into the cloud, but following an interview this morning with Steve Swasey, Vice President of Corporate Communications at Netflix, this shift into the cloud isn’t quite as comprehensive as it seems — at least not yet.

The company has moved some of its major power-gobbling processes to Amazon Web Services’ public cloud, but the really good and juicy stuff — that’s all hoarded away on Netflix’s own internal servers. And that’s probably not going to change, according to Swasey.

From what it sounds like, Netflix took one particular type of process (the encoding of new film into the system to make it available as a stream on demand) and since it would have been foolhardy from a resource, time (and therefore cost) perspective not to do so, they plunked it down on AWS. While Swasey didn’t go into detail about other major operations in the public cloud, he did suggest that anything remotely sensitive was stored in-house. Other search tools, customer queues, and more customer-facing (versus internal) will be hosted in the cloud — but the buck stops there.

Netflix isn’t just shipping and receiving movies using snail mail and some scattered company PCs on an internal network, after all. There are multiple arms of this business that require vastly different resources and that also require immense scalability since there are most likely times and days of peak demand for instantly-available streaming movies on a PC. When coupled with the other side of the Netflix operation — the shipping, receiving and storing of films in over 50 centers throughout the United States that send automatic messages in vast quantities to its huge database of users alone is complex. When we factor in encoding video and then turning around to deliver it on demand, there are whole new levels of resource and scheduling issues.

According to Swaysey, the adoption of AWS took place quite rapidly; Netflix began testing Amazon’s public cloud at the beginning of 2010 and analyzed test results to gauge progress. The company found that it significantly reduced dependency on its own data centers as well as cut back on time and engineering time, especially for one of the critical functions of the Netflix service — taking the raw film from production houses and handling all of the encoding in-house so that the films could be streamed to customers on-demand at the touch of a button.

Until comfort in the cloud grows — something that we will monitor closely here — companies with wide-ranging, large-scale, data-intensive needs will likely experiment with the cloud to outsource resource-heavy operations but in the end, security and protection of sensitive data seems to be the biggest hurdle. Companies like Netflix are willing to bear the much higher costs of IT resources as they keep their special data close to home.

Does that mean that the quickest way for new enterprises who start with the cloud (versus having to be talked into migration) to get a head start is by taking the plunge and sending all (even the juicy, private, confidential, secure stuff) into a public cloud?

While Swayse was tight-lipped about anything in the way of specifics in terms of the compute environment, it just took some thinking-through for me to see that they are managing, scheduling, and balancing the same large-scale, data-intensive, mission-critical workloads “real” enterprises in science and research are — the difference is, well, it’s “just” movies.

If your startup costs were minimal and you relied on pure ground-up cloud architecture and a gaggle of really, really smart friends, would it be possible to compete with a Netflix? Will it all just boil down to who has the most innovate marketing versus the best capacity if everyone has unlimited capacity?

If only I had more time.

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!

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

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

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…

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 computing capability in support of data analysis and AI workload Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

‘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

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

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