StackIQ Widens Net

By Steve Campbell

August 31, 2011

Continuing adventures in San Diego led me to StackIQ to meet with President and Co-founder Tim McIntire. Many of you will know StackIQ by their original name Clustercorp and the highly successful HPC cluster management suite Rocks.

Rocks was first developed at UCSD, circa 2000, and over a ten-year period, there are over ten thousand Rocks clusters worldwide. Many in traditional HPC environments but also growing installed base in the enterprises such as Aerospace, Automotive, Oil and Gas.  The one thing in common is managing large cluster installations in environments generating and processing vast amounts of data.

It is clearly an exciting time for StackIQ; a new name, new funding in place, new location and two of the original Rocks co-founders Greg Bruno and Mason Katz recently joining the team full time. More importantly, however, is the growing list of new customers for Rocks in their traditional HPC community and growing commercial enterprise installed base.

StackIQ is seeing growing acceptance in the new market segments of big data and naturally cloud computing. Recent alliances with Amazon for a port of Rocks to EC2 together with a recently announced OEM relationship with Amazon. In addition, their HPC expertise and heritage is well suited to Big Data solutions such as Apache Hadoop, Cassandra and others.  Rocks enables Hadoop clusters to be deployed in fraction of the time compared to conventional methods, StackIQ put a lot of emphasis on the ease of use and ease of deployment.

HPCc: You recently changed the company name from Clustercorp to StackIQ.  What’s behind the name change?

McIntire: Many people associated our previous name exclusively with High Performance Computing  (HPC). We wanted to change our name to better reflect what we do, which is to apply a decade of cluster computing expertize and experience to full-stack enterprise automation.
HPCc: I heard you also closed a round of financing.  Was this a private round or VC round and what can you tell me about it?

McIntire: It was a VC round, Series A. We secured the funding we needed to take the company to the next level by bringing in the resources to address the cloud and big data markets. We are very excited to be working with both Avalon Ventures and Anthem Venture Partners.
HPCc: How do you plan to spend the dollars raised?

McIntire: Some of it is focused on accelerating product development in the cloud and big data market segments while maintaining our leadership position in HPC. Some is earmarked to help us get our message out. We’ve been quite fortunate in building a strong community in the HPC space, but we need to let people outside of HPC know how much easier things are when you use Rocks+ to deploy and manage their servers.
HPCc: When I look at your website it is very clear that you have three distinct yet related segments, Clouds, Clusters and Big Data?  Starting with Clouds what is the plan?

McIntire: I’m glad you asked. Rocks is a horizontal platform for building out scalable solutions, but one of the things that made Rocks so successful in the cluster space was its ability to nail down a vertical solution (HPC) into a single, integrated stack. Open Source Rocks provided the first turnkey downloadable cluster ISO that allowed anybody — even researchers with little to no system administration experience — to build and manage a supercomputer.  

We are approaching the Cloud and Big Data verticals with the same strategy. You’ll notice that there is a complete downloadable stack for each of the segments on our website, so aspiring cloud and big data administrators can leverage the same simple turnkey solution we offer for HPC community. In addition, it’s free to use for clusters of up to 16 nodes.
HPCc: What about HPC clusters?

McIntire: Our roots are in HPC, and we’re proud of our position as the market leader in the HPC cluster management space. We are actively developing our HPC product line, and remain committed to delivering the best-of-breed cluster management solution for open source and commercial users.
There is a growing discussion of Big Data. What is your vision and why is this important to StackIQ and why is it such a hot topic in the world of data management?

The need to extract value from ever-growing volumes of both structured, and unstructured data is very real, and represents a tremendous business opportunity.

Apache Hadoop is a powerful, accessible open source tool that many are turning to, and at the heart of every Hadoop solution lies a high-performance cluster. Our HPC heritage puts us in the perfect position to bring best-of-breed technology to the foundation of Big Data solutions such as Apache Hadoop, Cassandra, and others. By laying the foundation of a rock-solid, predictable, reliable cluster at the base of each big data installation, Rocks+ leaves our customers free to focus on the business problem they’re trying to solve. Using conventional methods, building a working Hadoop solution can take weeks or months. Using our products, customers can bring up their Hadoop cluster in minutes.

HPCc: What’s the intersection of Big Data with Cloud Computing?

McIntire: The most interesting intersection I’ve seen is Amazon’s Elastic Map Reduce (EMR). Here, you have a market leading public cloud provider with customers who are generating a tremendous amount of data in the cloud. Rather than making customers deal with the difficult problem of downloading their data to a Hadoop cluster for analysis, Amazon brought compute to the data. They now have a very strong position in the big data space.

HPCc: Speaking of Amazon, are you also working to solve management problems in public cloud?

McIntire: Yes, one of our first cloud projects was a deep port of Rocks to support Amazon EC2. In June, we announced that Amazon has OEM’d Rocks+ (in much the same way they’ve done with Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Microsoft Windows) and now offers Rocks+ as an instance type. Thanks to Amazon, administrators can use the exact same management tools in public clouds that they use in their own data center. This can be a tremendous advantage. For example, you could leverage EC2 for development and testing purposes, running our Hadoop Roll there, tweak it to suit your needs, or you might even develop your own Roll. Then, should you decide to move your project in-house for large-scale deployment, you could simply download your Roll as an ISO and do complete bare metal provisioning of an in-house private cloud. You’d even have the same automated check-box installation Rocks users have become accustomed to.  

HPCc: You have been very successful with Rocks in the traditional HPC market. Are you changing direction and going after the commercial enterprise and if so why?

McIntire: The customers for our Cloud and Big Data solutions are primarily enterprises, but we’ve already seen great penetration in the enterprise HPC space. Therefore, while we are indeed marketing to the enterprise, we don’t see it as a change of direction. It’s just the next step along the path we were already on — bringing the power of Rocks to everyone who needs it.

HPCc: Can you do both markets? Do you have resources people and funds for both?

McIntire: Yes, one of the neat things about Rocks is its modularity.  Much of the work we do is applicable to all three verticals, which gives us a multiplying effect on the development side. By combining our architecture, leveraging the funding we talked about earlier, and some incredible work done by our partner network, we have everything we need to get the job done.
HPCc: Who is your primary competition and why should potential prospect choose you?

McIntire: There is no other product that can spin up Clouds, HPC Clusters, and Hadoop Clusters with the ease and efficiency of Rocks+. However, we do run in to different companies in certain spaces. Fortunately for us, most of them are in the early days of discovering all the ins and outs of deploying and managing large groups of connected servers at scale.

What we’ve seen is that people can be fairly successful in building small-scale clusters using less powerful tools, but once they grow beyond the test and proof-of-concept stage, the processes they’d been using fall short. We recommend people start with the end in mind, and use a proven cloud and cluster power tool right from the start. We make that easy by offering it free for clusters up to 16 nodes.
HPCc: What is you product roadmap, what’s next?

McIntire: I don’t like talking too far into the future when it comes to product features, however, there are some key items that are under development now.

We have a project underway that will significantly improve the Rocks user interface. We are also broadening the Big Data product line to include Cassandra, and plan to add other Big Data services to that package in the future as well.

In the Cloud space, work is well underway on an OpenStack product, and we are adding new capabilities to our Amazon EC2 offering. We’re also pushing ahead on the open source Rocks project, and plan to contribute RHEL and CentOS 6 support soon.
What’s your go to market approach?

We have a three-pronged Go-to-market approach:

-Hardware partners resell our software stacks to their customers to go along with their servers. Our current partners include Dell and HP, who have both given us tremendous support considering our company size.  Amazon, while not a traditional hardware partner, also fits into this channel go-to-market strategy.

-We also have a strong ISV partner network — we realize that our customers have a wide breadth of needs — our strategy here has always been to be supportive, yet agnostic at the applications layer.  For instance in HPC, we have Rocks Rolls for

Adaptive Computing’s Moab, Univa Grid Engine, and Altair PBS Pro.  You’ll notice we are executing the same strategy in the Big Data space, as we’ve already rolled out support for Apache Hadoop, MapR, and Cloudera.  In the coming months, you’ll see this list continue to grow.

-Lastly, StackIQ works directly with a number of customers who have pre-existing hardware and/or heterogeneous data centers.  Direct customers are usually more on the hyper-scale end of the size spectrum.  

What are the big trends you are seeing and how do they impact your vision?

We see a continuation of the trend towards more data and more compute — clusters are now mission critical to enterprise.  StackIQ is in the unique position of participating in a leading edge market segment with a mature, robust software solution.

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!

Mellanox Reacts to Activist Investor Pressures in Letter to Shareholders

March 16, 2018

Activist investor Starboard Value has been exerting pressure on Mellanox Technologies to increase its returns. In response, the high-performance networking company on Monday, March 12, published a letter to shareholders outlining its proposal for a May 2018 extraordinary general meeting (EGM) of shareholders and highlighting its long-term growth strategy and focus on operating margin improvement. Read more…

By Staff

Quantum Computing vs. Our ‘Caveman Newtonian Brain’: Why Quantum Is So Hard

March 15, 2018

Quantum is coming. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon enough. Within 10 to 12 years, we’re told, special-purpose quantum systems will enter the commercial realm. Assuming this happens, we can also assume that quantum will, over extended time, become increasingly general purpose as it delivers mind-blowing power. Read more…

By Doug Black

How the Cloud Is Falling Short for HPC

March 15, 2018

The last couple of years have seen cloud computing gradually build some legitimacy within the HPC world, but still the HPC industry lies far behind enterprise IT in its willingness to outsource computational power. The m Read more…

By Chris Downing

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Achieve Optimal Performance at Scale with High Performance Fabrics for HPC

High Performance Computing (HPC) is unlocking a new era of speed and productivity to fuel business transformation. Rapid advancements in HPC capabilities are helping organizations operate faster and more effectively than ever, but in today’s fast-paced marketplace, a new generation of technologies is required to reach greater scalability and cost-efficiency. Read more…

Stephen Hawking, Legendary Scientist, Dies at 76

March 14, 2018

Stephen Hawking passed away at his home in Cambridge, England, in the early morning of March 14; he was 76. Born on January 8, 1942, Hawking was an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and director of resea Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

How the Cloud Is Falling Short for HPC

March 15, 2018

The last couple of years have seen cloud computing gradually build some legitimacy within the HPC world, but still the HPC industry lies far behind enterprise I Read more…

By Chris Downing

Stephen Hawking, Legendary Scientist, Dies at 76

March 14, 2018

Stephen Hawking passed away at his home in Cambridge, England, in the early morning of March 14; he was 76. Born on January 8, 1942, Hawking was an English theo Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Hyperion Tackles Elusive Quantum Computing Landscape

March 13, 2018

Quantum computing - exciting and off-putting all at once - is a kaleidoscope of technology and market questions whose shapes and positions are far from settled. Read more…

By John Russell

Part Two: Navigating Life Sciences Choppy HPC Waters in 2018

March 8, 2018

2017 was not necessarily the best year to build a large HPC system for life sciences say Ari Berman, VP and GM of consulting services, and Aaron Gardner, direct Read more…

By John Russell

Google Chases Quantum Supremacy with 72-Qubit Processor

March 7, 2018

Google pulled ahead of the pack this week in the race toward "quantum supremacy," with the introduction of a new 72-qubit quantum processor called Bristlecone. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

SciNet Launches Niagara, Canada’s Fastest Supercomputer

March 5, 2018

SciNet and the University of Toronto today unveiled "Niagara," Canada's most-powerful supercomputer, comprising 1,500 dense Lenovo ThinkSystem SD530 high-perfor Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Part One: Deep Dive into 2018 Trends in Life Sciences HPC

March 1, 2018

Life sciences is an interesting lens through which to see HPC. It is perhaps not an obvious choice, given life sciences’ relative newness as a heavy user of H Read more…

By John Russell

Alibaba Cloud Launches ‘Bare Metal,’ HPC Instances in Europe

February 28, 2018

Alibaba, the e-commerce giant from China, is taking a run at AWS in the global public cloud computing market with new offerings aimed at the surging demand for Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Inventor Claims to Have Solved Floating Point Error Problem

January 17, 2018

"The decades-old floating point error problem has been solved," proclaims a press release from inventor Alan Jorgensen. The computer scientist has filed for and Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Japan Unveils Quantum Neural Network

November 22, 2017

The U.S. and China are leading the race toward productive quantum computing, but it's early enough that ultimate leadership is still something of an open questi Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Researchers Measure Impact of ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Patches on HPC Workloads

January 17, 2018

Computer scientists from the Center for Computational Research, State University of New York (SUNY), University at Buffalo have examined the effect of Meltdown Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Begins Power9 Rollout with Backing from DOE, Google

December 6, 2017

After over a year of buildup, IBM is unveiling its first Power9 system based on the same architecture as the Department of Energy CORAL supercomputers, Summit a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Fast Forward: Five HPC Predictions for 2018

December 21, 2017

What’s on your list of high (and low) lights for 2017? Volta 100’s arrival on the heels of the P100? Appearance, albeit late in the year, of IBM’s Power9? Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Russian Nuclear Engineers Caught Cryptomining on Lab Supercomputer

February 12, 2018

Nuclear scientists working at the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF) have been arrested for using lab supercomputing resources to mine crypto-currency, according to a report in Russia’s Interfax News Agency. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Chip Flaws ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Loom Large

January 4, 2018

The HPC and wider tech community have been abuzz this week over the discovery of critical design flaws that impact virtually all contemporary microprocessors. T Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

GlobalFoundries, Ayar Labs Team Up to Commercialize Optical I/O

December 4, 2017

GlobalFoundries (GF) and Ayar Labs, a startup focused on using light, instead of electricity, to transfer data between chips, today announced they've entered in Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

How Meltdown and Spectre Patches Will Affect HPC Workloads

January 10, 2018

There have been claims that the fixes for the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, named the KPTI (aka KAISER) patches, are going to affect applicatio Read more…

By Rosemary Francis

Perspective: What Really Happened at SC17?

November 22, 2017

SC is over. Now comes the myriad of follow-ups. Inboxes are filled with templated emails from vendors and other exhibitors hoping to win a place in the post-SC thinking of booth visitors. Attendees of tutorials, workshops and other technical sessions will be inundated with requests for feedback. Read more…

By Andrew Jones

V100 Good but not Great on Select Deep Learning Aps, Says Xcelerit

November 27, 2017

Wringing optimum performance from hardware to accelerate deep learning applications is a challenge that often depends on the specific application in use. A benc Read more…

By John Russell

Lenovo Unveils Warm Water Cooled ThinkSystem SD650 in Rampup to LRZ Install

February 22, 2018

This week Lenovo took the wraps off the ThinkSystem SD650 high-density server with third-generation direct water cooling technology developed in tandem with par Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD Wins Another: Baidu to Deploy EPYC on Single Socket Servers

December 13, 2017

When AMD introduced its EPYC chip line in June, the company said a portion of the line was specifically designed to re-invigorate a single socket segment in wha Read more…

By John Russell

World Record: Quantum Computer with 46 Qubits Simulated

December 18, 2017

Scientists from the Jülich Supercomputing Centre have set a new world record. Together with researchers from Wuhan University and the University of Groningen, Read more…

New Blueprint for Converging HPC, Big Data

January 18, 2018

After five annual workshops on Big Data and Extreme-Scale Computing (BDEC), a group of international HPC heavyweights including Jack Dongarra (University of Te Read more…

By John Russell

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