Workflow as a Service Expanding Beyond HPC

By Nicole Hemsoth

March 17, 2014

At the height of the first wave of the commercial cloud computing boom, around 2008, two HPC industry figures, Brian Schott and Robert Graybill, put their heads together to see how clouds might support high performance computing workloads. Their efforts led them to develop a “clearinghouse” for cloud-based HPC platforms and applications, which in turn prompted them to bundle, price, and support variations on these packages for companies and HPC centers to use along software as a service (SaaS) or platform as a service (PaaS) lines.

Offering a service like Nimbis was novel at the time, especially for complex environments in government and manufacturing where licensing, regulation, data access and collaboration, and multiple other challenges exist. Further, while the Amazons of the world were busy building their own marketplaces, these were heavy on Web 2.0-driven applications but not robust or specific enough for many HPC workloads. Even with the eventual addition of HPC-oriented instance types and GPU accelerated nodes for rent on Amazon’s boxes, the ecosystem for high performance computing, particularly for government lab and agency users (and smaller to medium-sized manufacturers), remained underdeveloped.

Graybill noted that government adoption was slow at first, but has since exploded, particularly in terms of private clouds—but also now in public cloud environments following more recent development from a number of cloud service providers.  For example, despite the application and workflow support holes for HPC, Amazon did set about to solve some of the challenges of the regulatory environment on its own through its GovCloud program (which certifies the underlying hardware and virtualization).

Elsewhere, Graybill points to significant investments in validating OpenStack and efforts from other cloud providers, including Microsoft with its Azure public cloud, bolstered the cloud possibilities for the types of customers Nimbis Services hoped to reach. He was especially enthusiastic about the future of OpenStack, noting that such an effort to level the playing field, provide access and support across clouds, and provide a stable, validated basis for the types of applications they work with would have taken many millions to develop without such a robust community of supporters and contributors (of which Nimbis is one). Even with such development at AWS, with OpenStack, and Azure, he says there are still a number of technical hurdles, including license management, complex workflow design for cloud-based applications, and the support of secure environments among a defined pool of users. It is in these critical areas that Nimbis hopes to continue pushing its services.

Graybill told us this week that the company has gone into a silent “stealth mode” of sorts over the last year to prepare for a newer generation of cloud-based applications for government and manufacturing as the needs are changing in the wake of wider cloud adoption in both areas. Government makes up nearly 75% of the small company’s revenue, with the remainder devoted to manufacturing. Graybill says their emphasis going forward is to flip those two numbers, putting the emphasis on manufacturing and other areas, including EDA and a wider set of commercial market segments. The company’s Blue Collar Computing offerings as well as those around Wolfram tools are robust, but they’re looking to new horizons following some new contracts. For instance, Nimbis Services has been awarded a 2-year contract by the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center to develop a “Trusted Silicon Stratus” that will allow the DoD and its contractors to conduct EDA in the cloud.

This deal in particular highlights how services like those from Nimbis are still highly relevant now that the use of cloud computing for complex workloads isn’t exactly new. His company not only manages the partner ecosystem for the EDA tools required for a security-conscious and regulation-bound entity, they also handle other aspects related to management, validation and compliance. For instance, Nimbis is able to monitor and guide the entire workflow to ensure they have full checks over the entire heritage of the data—the history of how it was used, collaborated upon, co-developed across sites and users—virtually everything from the time the data was first loaded into the cloud until chip fabrication. Further, license management, one of the great unsung villains of cloud computing use (especially for the highly expensive application areas like EDA), is managed through Nimbis, leaving users with more options beyond a long procurement for a license or worse, a year-long license when only a few short months might be needed.

Nimbis_Overview_GraphAs Nimbis says, the advantage is that anyone with a credit card (or approved purchase order) can shop their technical computing marketplace of fully integrated HPC platforms and modeling and simulation applications and purchase on-demand metered usage of these products “without the large investment of procuring, integrating, and maintaining these products separately and the long delays of negotiating license and service agreements.”

This is especially relevant for manufacturing, which can, according to Graybill, use the service to affordably explore and use HPC-level modeling, simulation, and analysis for virtual prototyping with help from domain-knowledgeable experts if needed. “We have broken down the barriers to HPC adoption for the small to medium sized enterprises in the engineering and manufacturing supply chain,” the company says.

Nimbis is a technology partner for many existing government and manufacturing projects, including the Ohio Supercomputer Center’s (OSC) Blue Collar Computing program, the grid portal for the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences, and offers support for cloud-based Wolfram, ANSYS, Abaqus and other modeling and simulation tools. They are also partners for the UI Labs and DoD Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute and the AweSim program at OSC, in addition to other programs nationwide.

Aside from growing its manufacturing and commercial sector growth in 2014, Graybill says that Nimbis will continue expanding its partner ecosystem, which will open doors to new application areas and a healthier selection of ISV offerings for users outside of government to choose from.

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!

Weekly Twitter Roundup (Feb. 23, 2017)

February 23, 2017

Here at HPCwire, we aim to keep the HPC community apprised of the most relevant and interesting news items that get tweeted throughout the week. Read more…

By Thomas Ayres

HPE Server Shows Low Latency on STAC-N1 Test

February 22, 2017

The performance of trade and match servers can be a critical differentiator for financial trading houses. Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Financial Update (Feb. 2017)

February 22, 2017

In this recurring feature, we’ll provide you with financial highlights from companies in the HPC industry. Check back in regularly for an updated list with the most pertinent fiscal information. Read more…

By Thomas Ayres

Rethinking HPC Platforms for ‘Second Gen’ Applications

February 22, 2017

Just what constitutes HPC and how best to support it is a keen topic currently. Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

O&G Companies Create Value with High Performance Remote Visualization

Today’s oil and gas (O&G) companies are striving to process datasets that have become not only tremendously large, but extremely complex. And the larger that data becomes, the harder it is to move and analyze it – particularly with a workforce that could be distributed between drilling sites, offshore rigs, and remote offices. Read more…

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

IDC: Will the Real Exascale Race Please Stand Up?

February 21, 2017

So the exascale race is on. And lots of organizations are in the pack. Government announcements from the US, China, India, Japan, and the EU indicate that they are working hard to make it happen – some sooner, some later. Read more…

By Bob Sorensen, IDC

ExxonMobil, NCSA, Cray Scale Reservoir Simulation to 700,000+ Processors

February 17, 2017

In a scaling breakthrough for oil and gas discovery, ExxonMobil geoscientists report they have harnessed the power of 717,000 processors – the equivalent of 22,000 32-processor computers – to run complex oil and gas reservoir simulation models. Read more…

By Doug Black

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

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

IDC: Will the Real Exascale Race Please Stand Up?

February 21, 2017

So the exascale race is on. And lots of organizations are in the pack. Government announcements from the US, China, India, Japan, and the EU indicate that they are working hard to make it happen – some sooner, some later. Read more…

By Bob Sorensen, IDC

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

Drug Developers Use Google Cloud HPC in the Fight Against ALS

February 16, 2017

Within the haystack of a lethal disease such as ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis / Lou Gehrig’s Disease) there exists, somewhere, the needle that will pierce this therapy-resistant affliction. Read more…

By Doug Black

Azure Edges AWS in Linpack Benchmark Study

February 15, 2017

The “when will clouds be ready for HPC” question has ebbed and flowed for years. Read more…

By John Russell

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

Cray Posts Best-Ever Quarter, Visibility Still Limited

February 10, 2017

On its Wednesday earnings call, Cray announced the largest revenue quarter in the company’s history and the second-highest revenue year. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

US, China Vie for Supercomputing Supremacy

November 14, 2016

The 48th edition of the TOP500 list is fresh off the presses and while there is no new number one system, as previously teased by China, there are a number of notable entrants from the US and around the world and significant trends to report on. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

D-Wave SC16 Update: What’s Bo Ewald Saying These Days

November 18, 2016

Tucked in a back section of the SC16 exhibit hall, quantum computing pioneer D-Wave has been talking up its new 2000-qubit processor announced in September. Forget for a moment the criticism sometimes aimed at D-Wave. This small Canadian company has sold several machines including, for example, ones to Lockheed and NASA, and has worked with Google on mapping machine learning problems to quantum computing. In July Los Alamos National Laboratory took possession of a 1000-quibit D-Wave 2X system that LANL ordered a year ago around the time of SC15. Read more…

By John Russell

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

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

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

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

Leading Solution Providers

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

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

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

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

Dell Knights Landing Machine Sets New STAC Records

November 2, 2016

The Securities Technology Analysis Center, commonly known as STAC, has released a new report characterizing the performance of the Knight Landing-based Dell PowerEdge C6320p server on the STAC-A2 benchmarking suite, widely used by the financial services industry to test and evaluate computing platforms. The Dell machine has set new records for both the baseline Greeks benchmark and the large Greeks benchmark. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

What Knights Landing Is Not

June 18, 2016

As we get ready to launch the newest member of the Intel Xeon Phi family, code named Knights Landing, it is natural that there be some questions and potentially some confusion. Read more…

By James Reinders, Intel

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

KNUPATH Hermosa-based Commercial Boards Expected in Q1 2017

December 15, 2016

Last June tech start-up KnuEdge emerged from stealth mode to begin spreading the word about its new processor and fabric technology that’s been roughly a decade in the making. Read more…

By John Russell

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