HPC at the Crossroads with DDN’s Alex Bouzari

By Doug Black

November 13, 2015

A company standing in the crossroads, one that is usually ready for whatever is onrushing, is DataDirect Networks, the scalable storage specialist founded in 1998. Back then, HPC was mostly contained within the world of the government labs and academia, where DDN is entrenched at two-thirds of the world’s biggest supercomputer sites. Now the company is at the forefront of the HPC breakout into the enterprise. Starting about five years ago, the primary source of DDN’s growth changed from the TOP500 to the Fortune 100, web cloud companies, the financial services industry and other enterprise markets.

Alex Bouzari, DDN CEO, chairman and co-founder, is well positioned to expound on the state of HPC. He recently spoke with EnterpriseTech and HPCwire on the convergence of traditional HPC and advanced scale computing in the enterprise, their divergent priorities, and the opportunities for technology providers in the future, the scale of which he says will dwarf today’s drive to exascale.

“We’re hearing it over and over again,” Bouzari said. “HPC has truly broadened from being an enabler for large scale computing and simulation for scientific discovery by the government labs and academia into something much broader. I really see it is becoming the engine that is driving connected societies and the global economy.”

A range of enterprise markets and applications increasingly use HPC tools to accelerate time-to-insight to better process, manage and share their data, Bouzari said, which in turn results in significantly better competitiveness and profitability.

“People in the enterprise weren’t so focused five years ago on delivering business value through IT,” said Bouzari, “it was making sure the data is protected and that users in the organization have access to the data. Now, increasingly, we’re seeing younger IT leaders in these organizations who view their jobs as not just to make sure data is safe and available, Amazon can do that, the job is to ensure that IT is bringing significant business value.”

With ROI comes enterprise adoption of HPC at scale.

“We have enterprise customers in the financial services sector, in life sciences, in genomics, in manufacturing, who have deployed systems that are as large the HPC Top 20, from a performance and scale standpoint. And it’s simply because it has become very easy for enterprise customers to justify the ROI of making these investments in technology, because the acceleration in analyzing and processing data, and the increased insights they get from their data, is translated into hundreds of millions of dollars in profits added to the bottom line. So the decisions are far, far easier.”

On the consumer side, web cloud companies, internet service providers and telco’s have adopted HPC to streamline costs and enable social media, and are at the early stage of delivering personalized services to consumers.

This ties into Bouzari’s vision for the digital, mobile world of the future, the “connected society.” Under the heading that “everything that rises must converge,” Bouzari says the relentless rise in technology’s ability to collect, process and share hundreds of trillions of stored objects that capture consumer behaviors will converge and connect people to each other and to companies.

“The trend we’re seeing will require significant advances in technology,” he said. “It’s the ability to collect data points from consumer behaviors as well as changing data sets in a mobile manner, and then using them to deliver very accurate and real-time information,” he said.

“Today we have a customer in the web cloud world using our products for mobile applications. Think of it as hundreds of millions of consumers making queries into mobile devices, DDN is the engine that drives all that worldwide. For these services to be beneficial to consumers, accuracy and real time response is very important, so every time you make a query they collect the information and store it so there’s an increasing level of accuracy every time that happens. It’s an object-based implementation and we now have more than a quarter trillion objects that are in this globally distributed DDN object based system used to deliver services to the consumer.”

The old way of gauging HPC – more bandwidth more capacity, better latency, figuring out how to beat Moore’s Law – will be dwarfed by web cloud organizations’ utilization of HPC technology, Bouzari said.

For industry veterans who shared the view that the HPC community is an incubator and proving ground for future technologies in the wider world, that day is arriving quickly. The work of traditional HPC industry remains vital, both for scientific discovery and for technological development, Bouzari said. But the market opportunity and technology challenges coming out of the enterprise world are outsized compared with the relatively small market of the HPC500.

This is good news for HPC vendors seeking new markets, but it carries with it big challenges not posed by the traditional HPC market.

“The labs and universities have rocket scientists and computer scientists to couple things together, and all they need is the system to deliver peak qualities. If it’s somewhat shaky, it’s OK.”

But in the enterprise, shaky is unacceptable.

“Enterprise customers are looking for the same performance and scale attributes that the labs and government agencies have been enjoying,” Bouzari said, “but in addition to that they are used to seeing reliability, resiliency and quality of service that is far more stringent than what traditional HPC has required. So as a result, products and services delivered to the enterprise have to be hardened, and you need to spend years and years and a significant amount of money in doing that for the product portfolio.”

This reflects a larger difference in orientations between traditional and enterprise HPC, with implications for the sales process.

“In traditional HPC, customers are very technical, very sophisticated,” Bouzari said, “so the dialogue is deep down into the bits and bytes of the technology, in terms of FLOPS, gigabytes per second, IOPS. HPC people want to know in great detail what is the software architecture like, what the block diagrams of the underlying hardware are like, how many pipes and what types of pipes are used. They also tend to be more interested in far more long-term product road maps. It’s not unusual for customers to ask for a five-year view, and not just cursory review, they really want to drill down into the details.”

But in the enterprise, “it tends to be more of technical business dialogue, where they are aware of the building blocks of the tech and big technological trends, but they have no interest in getting into the bowels of the actual product. In the enterprise, it’s ‘Explain to me how your roadmap aligns with my business requirements.’ They tell us it’s our job to translate their business requirements into a system architecture that meets and exceeds those requirements. They tell us, ‘It’s not our job to figure it out for you.’ Whereas the government labs typically love to figure it out for you.”

And whereas cost sensitivity in the labs is high, in the enterprise it’s not as acute – assuming a strong ROI case can be made.

DDN’s product portfolio rests on three pillars that have been the focus of the company’s R&D efforts for the past eight years, one that supports an end-to-end life cycle data management strategy:

Application and File System Acceleration: DDN’s Infinite Memory Engine (IME) extends the memory footprint by leveraging solid state and nonvolatile memory technologies. IME adds a data caching tier between processor and parallel file system, cutting latency and speeding applications by 1000X, Bouzari said.

Persistent Storage Layer: DDN’s Storage Fusion Architecture, of which the SFA14K is the new entry, is DDN’s new hyper-converged hybrid storage platform that integrates nonvolatile memory and solid state with discs for high end data performance: nearly 14 PB of capacity, 60gb second bandwidth and 6 million IOPS in a 4U footprint.

Object Storage Archive: Web Object Scaler (WOS) is DDN’s massively scalable object storage platform for live archiving and deep archiving, second in size to Amazon Web Services, according to DDN. WOS supports web-scale storage clouds and real-time distribution of content across large-scale collaboration infrastructures.

Bouzari said that while the three DDN pillars are constantly evolving and leveraging new technologies, the framework will remain in place.

“The building blocks need to come together and in the right way,” he said, with “connectors” that tie the three pieces together and enable intelligent migration from the nonvolatile memory layer to the persistent storage layer and then into archive.

“Advances in silicon, whether it’s processors, fabric or simply new nonvolatile memory technologies, are helping provide faster and faster capabilities, but they need to be architected in ways that they can be utilized and deployed effectively.”

While end-to-end data management is suited to the architectural and performance requirements of the enterprise, Bouzari said it’s also gaining acceptance in traditional HPC.

Browse News From SC15“It’s no longer just wanting the highest number of FLOPS at the lowest cost, or the highest bandwidth, or the highest capacity at the lowest cost,” Bouzari said. “Yes, those things remain important but they also need the ability to better manage their environments, the ability to tie big Lustre file system pieces into GPFS pieces, the need to go back and forth between persistent storage and the archive. There are bottlenecks in the jobs they’re running so they need to leverage nonvolatile memory, and they need all these pieces to come together.”

The beating heart of technological innovation: advances in silicon.

“The game is changing from ‘more of the same’,” Bouzari said, “to how to make this extremely powerful silicon, which is coming to the fabric, processors and nonvolatile memory, to provide better usability and better capabilities to the users. So it’s becoming a software game, with a lot of thought going into the proper design and architectures of the customer environments, rather than just brute forcing it by going from 10,000 to 20,000 to 50,000 cores and so forth. Things have changed and they’re continuing to change at an accelerated pace.”

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!

University of Stuttgart Inaugurates ‘Hawk’ Supercomputer

February 20, 2020

This week, the new “Hawk” supercomputer was inaugurated in a ceremony at the High-Performance Computing Center of the University of Stuttgart (HLRS). Officials, scientists and other stakeholders celebrated the new sy Read more…

By Staff report

US to Triple Its Supercomputing Capacity for Weather and Climate with Two New Crays

February 20, 2020

The blizzard of news around the race for weather and climate supercomputing leadership continues. Just three days after the UK announced a £1.2 billion plan to build the world’s largest weather and climate supercomputer, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Indiana University Researchers Use Supercomputing to Model the State’s Largest Watershed

February 20, 2020

With water stressors on the rise, understanding and protecting water supplies is more important than ever. Now, a team of researchers from Indiana University has created a new climate change data portal to help Indianans Read more…

By Staff report

TACC – Supporting Portable, Reproducible, Computational Science with Containers

February 20, 2020

Researchers who use supercomputers for science typically don't limit themselves to one system. They move their projects to whatever resources are available, often using many different systems simultaneously, in their lab Read more…

By Aaron Dubrow

China Researchers Set Distance Record in Quantum Memory Entanglement

February 20, 2020

Efforts to develop the necessary capabilities for building a practical ‘quantum-based’ internet have been ongoing for years. One of the biggest challenges is being able to maintain and manage entanglement of remote q Read more…

By John Russell

AWS Solution Channel

Challenging the barriers to High Performance Computing in the Cloud

Cloud computing helps democratize High Performance Computing by placing powerful computational capabilities in the hands of more researchers, engineers, and organizations who may lack access to sufficient on-premises infrastructure. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Intelligent HPC – Keeping Hard Work at Bay(es)

Since the dawn of time, humans have looked for ways to make their lives easier. Over the centuries human ingenuity has given us inventions such as the wheel and simple machines – which help greatly with tasks that would otherwise be extremely laborious. Read more…

New Algorithm Allows PCs to Challenge HPC in Weather Forecasting

February 19, 2020

Accurate weather forecasting has, by and large, been situated squarely in the domain of high-performance computing – just this week, the UK announced a nearly $1.6 billion investment in the world’s largest supercompu Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

US to Triple Its Supercomputing Capacity for Weather and Climate with Two New Crays

February 20, 2020

The blizzard of news around the race for weather and climate supercomputing leadership continues. Just three days after the UK announced a £1.2 billion plan to build the world’s largest weather and climate supercomputer, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Japan’s AIST Benchmarks Intel Optane; Cites Benefit for HPC and AI

February 19, 2020

Last April Intel released its Optane Data Center Persistent Memory Module (DCPMM) – byte addressable nonvolatile memory – to increase main memory capacity a Read more…

By John Russell

UK Announces £1.2 Billion Weather and Climate Supercomputer

February 19, 2020

While the planet is heating up, so is the race for global leadership in weather and climate computing. In a bombshell announcement, the UK government revealed p Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

The Massive GPU Cloudburst Experiment Plays a Smaller, More Productive Encore

February 13, 2020

In November, researchers at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) and the IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center (WIPAC) set out to break the internet – or Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Eni to Retake Industry HPC Crown with Launch of HPC5

February 12, 2020

With the launch of its Dell-built HPC5 system, Italian energy company Eni regains its position atop the industrial supercomputing leaderboard. At 52-petaflops p Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Trump Budget Proposal Again Slashes Science Spending

February 11, 2020

President Donald Trump’s FY2021 U.S. Budget, submitted to Congress this week, again slashes science spending. It’s a $4.8 trillion statement of priorities, Read more…

By John Russell

Policy: Republicans Eye Bigger Science Budgets; NSF Celebrates 70th, Names Idea Machine Winners

February 5, 2020

It’s a busy week for science policy. Yesterday, the National Science Foundation announced winners of its 2026 Idea Machine contest seeking directions for futu Read more…

By John Russell

Fujitsu A64FX Supercomputer to Be Deployed at Nagoya University This Summer

February 3, 2020

Japanese tech giant Fujitsu announced today that it will supply Nagoya University Information Technology Center with the first commercial supercomputer powered Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Julia Programming’s Dramatic Rise in HPC and Elsewhere

January 14, 2020

Back in 2012 a paper by four computer scientists including Alan Edelman of MIT introduced Julia, A Fast Dynamic Language for Technical Computing. At the time, t Read more…

By John Russell

Cray, Fujitsu Both Bringing Fujitsu A64FX-based Supercomputers to Market in 2020

November 12, 2019

The number of top-tier HPC systems makers has shrunk due to a steady march of M&A activity, but there is increased diversity and choice of processing compon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

SC19: IBM Changes Its HPC-AI Game Plan

November 25, 2019

It’s probably fair to say IBM is known for big bets. Summit supercomputer – a big win. Red Hat acquisition – looking like a big win. OpenPOWER and Power processors – jury’s out? At SC19, long-time IBMer Dave Turek sketched out a different kind of bet for Big Blue – a small ball strategy, if you’ll forgive the baseball analogy... Read more…

By John Russell

Intel Debuts New GPU – Ponte Vecchio – and Outlines Aspirations for oneAPI

November 17, 2019

Intel today revealed a few more details about its forthcoming Xe line of GPUs – the top SKU is named Ponte Vecchio and will be used in Aurora, the first plann Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Unveils Latest Achievements in AI Hardware

December 13, 2019

“The increased capabilities of contemporary AI models provide unprecedented recognition accuracy, but often at the expense of larger computational and energet Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

SC19: Welcome to Denver

November 17, 2019

A significant swath of the HPC community has come to Denver for SC19, which began today (Sunday) with a rich technical program. As is customary, the ribbon cutt Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Fujitsu A64FX Supercomputer to Be Deployed at Nagoya University This Summer

February 3, 2020

Japanese tech giant Fujitsu announced today that it will supply Nagoya University Information Technology Center with the first commercial supercomputer powered Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

51,000 Cloud GPUs Converge to Power Neutrino Discovery at the South Pole

November 22, 2019

At the dead center of the South Pole, thousands of sensors spanning a cubic kilometer are buried thousands of meters beneath the ice. The sensors are part of Ic Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

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

Jensen Huang’s SC19 – Fast Cars, a Strong Arm, and Aiming for the Cloud(s)

November 20, 2019

We’ve come to expect Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang’s annual SC keynote to contain stunning graphics and lively bravado (with plenty of examples) in support of GPU Read more…

By John Russell

Top500: US Maintains Performance Lead; Arm Tops Green500

November 18, 2019

The 54th Top500, revealed today at SC19, is a familiar list: the U.S. Summit (ORNL) and Sierra (LLNL) machines, offering 148.6 and 94.6 petaflops respectively, Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Azure Cloud First with AMD Epyc Rome Processors

November 6, 2019

At Ignite 2019 this week, Microsoft's Azure cloud team and AMD announced an expansion of their partnership that began in 2017 when Azure debuted Epyc-backed instances for storage workloads. The fourth-generation Azure D-series and E-series virtual machines previewed at the Rome launch in August are now generally available. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel’s New Hyderabad Design Center Targets Exascale Era Technologies

December 3, 2019

Intel's Raja Koduri was in India this week to help launch a new 300,000 square foot design and engineering center in Hyderabad, which will focus on advanced com Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

In Memoriam: Steve Tuecke, Globus Co-founder

November 4, 2019

HPCwire is deeply saddened to report that Steve Tuecke, longtime scientist at Argonne National Lab and University of Chicago, has passed away at age 52. Tuecke Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Debuts IC922 Power Server for AI Inferencing and Data Management

January 28, 2020

IBM today launched a Power9-based inference server – the IC922 – that features up to six Nvidia T4 GPUs, PCIe Gen 4 and OpenCAPI connectivity, and can accom Read more…

By John Russell

Cray Debuts ClusterStor E1000 Finishing Remake of Portfolio for ‘Exascale Era’

October 30, 2019

Cray, now owned by HPE, today introduced the ClusterStor E1000 storage platform, which leverages Cray software and mixes hard disk drives (HDD) and flash memory Read more…

By John Russell

D-Wave’s Path to 5000 Qubits; Google’s Quantum Supremacy Claim

September 24, 2019

On the heels of IBM’s quantum news last week come two more quantum items. D-Wave Systems today announced the name of its forthcoming 5000-qubit system, Advantage (yes the name choice isn’t serendipity), at its user conference being held this week in Newport, RI. Read more…

By John Russell

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This