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!

NSF Project Sets Up First Machine Learning Cyberinfrastructure – CHASE-CI

July 25, 2017

Earlier this month, the National Science Foundation issued a $1 million grant to Larry Smarr, director of Calit2, and a group of his colleagues to create a community infrastructure in support of machine learning research Read more…

By John Russell

DARPA Continues Investment in Post-Moore’s Technologies

July 24, 2017

The U.S. military long ago ceded dominance in electronics innovation to Silicon Valley, the DoD-backed powerhouse that has driven microelectronic generation for decades. With Moore's Law clearly running out of steam, the Read more…

By George Leopold

Graphcore Readies Launch of 16nm Colossus-IPU Chip

July 20, 2017

A second $30 million funding round for U.K. AI chip developer Graphcore sets up the company to go to market with its “intelligent processing unit” (IPU) in 2017 with scale-up production for enterprise datacenters and Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPE Servers Deliver High Performance Remote Visualization

Whether generating seismic simulations, locating new productive oil reservoirs, or constructing complex models of the earth’s subsurface, energy, oil, and gas (EO&G) is a highly data-driven industry. Read more…

Trinity Supercomputer’s Haswell and KNL Partitions Are Merged

July 19, 2017

Trinity supercomputer’s two partitions – one based on Intel Xeon Haswell processors and the other on Xeon Phi Knights Landing – have been fully integrated are now available for use on classified work in the Nationa Read more…

By HPCwire Staff

NSF Project Sets Up First Machine Learning Cyberinfrastructure – CHASE-CI

July 25, 2017

Earlier this month, the National Science Foundation issued a $1 million grant to Larry Smarr, director of Calit2, and a group of his colleagues to create a comm Read more…

By John Russell

Graphcore Readies Launch of 16nm Colossus-IPU Chip

July 20, 2017

A second $30 million funding round for U.K. AI chip developer Graphcore sets up the company to go to market with its “intelligent processing unit” (IPU) in Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Fujitsu Continues HPC, AI Push

July 19, 2017

Summer is well under way, but the so-called summertime slowdown, linked with hot temperatures and longer vacations, does not seem to have impacted Fujitsu's out Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Researchers Use DNA to Store and Retrieve Digital Movie

July 18, 2017

From abacus to pencil and paper to semiconductor chips, the technology of computing has always been an ever-changing target. The human brain is probably the com Read more…

By John Russell

The Exascale FY18 Budget – The Next Step

July 17, 2017

On July 12, 2017, the U.S. federal budget for its Exascale Computing Initiative (ECI) took its next step forward. On that day, the full Appropriations Committee Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Women in HPC Luncheon Shines Light on Female-Friendly Hiring Practices

July 13, 2017

The second annual Women in HPC luncheon was held on June 20, 2017, during the International Supercomputing Conference in Frankfurt, Germany. The luncheon provid Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Satellite Advances, NSF Computation Power Rapid Mapping of Earth’s Surface

July 13, 2017

New satellite technologies have completely changed the game in mapping and geographical data gathering, reducing costs and placing a new emphasis on time series Read more…

By Ken Chiacchia and Tiffany Jolley

Intel Skylake: Xeon Goes from Chip to Platform

July 13, 2017

With yesterday’s New York unveiling of the new “Skylake” Xeon Scalable processors, Intel made multiple runs at multiple competitive threats and strategic Read more…

By Doug Black

Google Pulls Back the Covers on Its First Machine Learning Chip

April 6, 2017

This week Google released a report detailing the design and performance characteristics of the Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), its custom ASIC for the inference Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

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. Just how close real-wo 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 a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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 cam 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

Nvidia’s Mammoth Volta GPU Aims High for AI, HPC

May 10, 2017

At Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference (GTC17) in San Jose, Calif., this morning, CEO Jensen Huang announced the company's much-anticipated Volta architecture a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Facebook Open Sources Caffe2; Nvidia, Intel Rush to Optimize

April 18, 2017

From its F8 developer conference in San Jose, Calif., today, Facebook announced Caffe2, a new open-source, cross-platform framework for deep learning. Caffe2 is the successor to Caffe, the deep learning framework developed by Berkeley AI Research and community contributors. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

How ‘Knights Mill’ Gets Its Deep Learning Flops

June 22, 2017

Intel, the subject of much speculation regarding the delayed, rewritten or potentially canceled “Aurora” contract (the Argonne Lab part of the CORAL “ Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Reinders: “AVX-512 May Be a Hidden Gem” in Intel Xeon Scalable Processors

June 29, 2017

Imagine if we could use vector processing on something other than just floating point problems.  Today, GPUs and CPUs work tirelessly to accelerate algorithms Read more…

By James Reinders

Russian Researchers Claim First Quantum-Safe Blockchain

May 25, 2017

The Russian Quantum Center today announced it has overcome the threat of quantum cryptography by creating the first quantum-safe blockchain, securing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, along with classified government communications and other sensitive digital transfers. Read more…

By Doug Black

MIT Mathematician Spins Up 220,000-Core Google Compute Cluster

April 21, 2017

On Thursday, Google announced that MIT math professor and computational number theorist Andrew V. Sutherland had set a record for the largest Google Compute Engine (GCE) job. Sutherland ran the massive mathematics workload on 220,000 GCE cores using preemptible virtual machine instances. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Debuts TPU v2 and will Add to Google Cloud

May 25, 2017

Not long after stirring attention in the deep learning/AI community by revealing the details of its Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), Google last week announced the Read more…

By John Russell

Groq This: New AI Chips to Give GPUs a Run for Deep Learning Money

April 24, 2017

CPUs and GPUs, move over. Thanks to recent revelations surrounding Google’s new Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), the computing world appears to be on the cusp of Read more…

By Alex Woodie

Six Exascale PathForward Vendors Selected; DoE Providing $258M

June 15, 2017

The much-anticipated PathForward awards for hardware R&D in support of the Exascale Computing Project were announced today with six vendors selected – AMD Read more…

By John Russell

Top500 Results: Latest List Trends and What’s in Store

June 19, 2017

Greetings from Frankfurt and the 2017 International Supercomputing Conference where the latest Top500 list has just been revealed. Although there were no major Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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