Microsoft Brings MapReduce into the Fold

By Nicole Hemsoth

July 18, 2011

This week Microsoft unveiled Project Daytona, which is a community technical preview release of their own MapReduce framework designed and built for their own Windows Azure cloud offering.

Microsoft claims that their implementation of an interative MapReduce runtime on their cloud will allow researchers to capture the scalability of the cloud without sacrificing the performance and compute horsepower needed to analyze large data sets. In their statement today, Microsoft said that Project Daytona will allow researchers to “analyze data sets on gigabytes or terabytes of data and run large-scale machine learning algorithms on dozens or hundreds of compute cores.”

According to softies behind Project Daytona, one of the most persistent complaints they received from researchers was that they needed a data analysis and processing framework robust enough to handle the increasingly large data sets they were contending with. Like those in the enterprise space, these researchers were finding it difficult to find meaning in their massive pools of data using simplified tools. As many who are familiar with the MapReduce framework, however, using it to create parallelized code capable of uncovering hidden value in data isn’t light work—it took expertise that many domain specialists don’t possess.

Arguably, one of Microsoft’s strong suits has historically been their ability to take programmatic headaches, condense them behind a simple user interface and let the experts handle the drama. This  is what they are hoping to do with Project Daytona on the software level while letting a bevy of instructional materials, sample code, and easy interfaces make the rest a bit more palatable for the average research group.

In terms of the key benefits, Microsoft says that their strong point with Project Daytona is that it was purpose-built for the cloud. For their cloud. The virtual machines, they say, “irrespective of infrastructure as a service (IaaS) or platform as a service (PaaS), introduce unique challenges and architectural tradeoffs for implementing a scale-out computation framework such as Project Daytona. Out of these, the most crucial are network communications between virtual machines (VMs) and the non-persistent disks of VMs. We have tuned the scheduling, network communications scheduling, and the fault tolerance logic of Project Daytona to suit this situation.”

Additionally, they point to the fact that this has been designed specifically with cloud storage services in mind via their defined stream-based data access layer for cloud data sources (which only include Windows Azure blob storage, although they claim more will be on the way at an undefined moment in the future). This means they will be able to partition data dynamically while supporting parallel reads, leaving the data inside the memory or in local non-persistent disks with backups relegated to the blobs. This means Project Daytona can gobble data without the overhead hit and overcome failures without a crisis, relying on their  Azure storage services and without the need for a distributed file system.

If you shed the messy data movement issues, the scalability of the cloud for projects that are data-instensive can be quite a selling point. Instant provisioning makes the process seamless and users can define, shut down and otherwise manipulate virtual machines as needed. As Microsoft says in its closing message about the release, “Project Daytona lets you focus on your data exploration; without having to worry about acquiring compute capacity or time-consuming hardware setup and management.”

While Roger Barga and his team at the eXtreme Computing Group at Microsoft Research plan to fine-tune the offering in coming months, in many ways the release comes ready-made for new developers to climb on board without extensive parallel programming knowledge—always a spot of welcome news for scientific researchers who want to trade in their system admin skills for more time to get back to their focused work.

The project was borne out of the eXtreme Computing Group’s Cloud Research Engagement Program, which is a broad initiative that Microsoft hopes will “change the paradigm for scholarly and scientific research by extending the power of the computer into the cloud.” The group behind the effort is working on next generation cloud computing technologies in conjunction with the researchers who will be making the most use of such developments.

Other noteworthy projects that have spun out of their cloud program include the European research effort, VENUS-C Cloud Infrastructure, which is being tested and deployed on Azure with the promise of bringing new applications for bioinformatics, engineering, earth sciences and healthcare, among others, to a new class of users via the cloud.

Microsoft is blending what appears to be a dwindling presence in traditional HPC into its cloud offering with a host of announcements this year that cater to the HPC crowd yet provide the cloud as the backbone of the research. Even a quick glance down this list of initiatives that are research-oriented should give you an idea that Microsoft is serious about making its Azure the cloud of choice for technical and scientific computing.

On that note, the effort is in many ways geared toward appeasing the two key words that are the tip of every tech person’s tongue these days; big data and cloud computing. While Project Daytona is something of a latecomer to the big data cloud party given the Hadoop/MapReduce play Amazon made earlier this year, it is nonetheless unique in terms of its focus. Instead of appealing directly to the enterprise data mining professional, this community release offering is set apart by its emphasis on the researcher or scientist.

This is not to say that MapReduce on Microsoft’s cloud couldn’t aim to please the commercial data pro—it’s more a matter of messaging. Only time will tell what kind of adoption this will get once it gets off the ground and the bugs exterminated, of course, but it’s noteworthy in its target market focus.

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!

Bill Gropp – Pursuing the Next Big Thing at NCSA

March 28, 2017

About eight months ago Bill Gropp was elevated to acting director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). Read more…

By John Russell

UK to Launch Six Major HPC Centers

March 27, 2017

Six high performance computing centers will be formally launched in the U.K. later this week intended to provide wider access to HPC resources to U.K. Read more…

By John Russell

AI in the News: Rao in at Intel, Ng out at Baidu, Nvidia on at Tencent Cloud

March 26, 2017

Just as AI has become the leitmotif of the advanced scale computing market, infusing much of the conversation about HPC in commercial and industrial spheres, it also is impacting high-level management changes in the industry. Read more…

By Doug Black

Scalable Informatics Ceases Operations

March 23, 2017

On the same day we reported on the uncertain future for HPC compiler company PathScale, we are sad to learn that another HPC vendor, Scalable Informatics, is closing its doors. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Quants Achieving Maximum Compute Power without the Learning Curve

The financial services industry is a fast-paced and data-intensive environment, and financial firms are realizing that they must modernize their IT infrastructures and invest in high performance computing (HPC) tools in order to survive. Read more…

‘Strategies in Biomedical Data Science’ Advances IT-Research Synergies

March 23, 2017

“Strategies in Biomedical Data Science: Driving Force for Innovation” by Jay A. Etchings is both an introductory text and a field guide for anyone working with biomedical data. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Compiler Company PathScale Seeks Life Raft

March 23, 2017

HPCwire has learned that HPC compiler company PathScale has fallen on difficult times and is asking the community for help or actively seeking a buyer for its assets. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

Bill Gropp – Pursuing the Next Big Thing at NCSA

March 28, 2017

About eight months ago Bill Gropp was elevated to acting director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Compiler Company PathScale Seeks Life Raft

March 23, 2017

HPCwire has learned that HPC compiler company PathScale has fallen on difficult times and is asking the community for help or actively seeking a buyer for its assets. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

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

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

HPC Compiler Company PathScale Seeks Life Raft

March 23, 2017

HPCwire has learned that HPC compiler company PathScale has fallen on difficult times and is asking the community for help or actively seeking a buyer for its assets. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

Leading Solution Providers

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

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

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

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

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