Cloud, Big Data Take Center Stage at Enterprise HPC
Their work environments spanned industries from aerospace and defense to pharmaceuticals, retail, and government, but Enterprise HPC attendees have many challenges, opportunities, and concerns in common.
Often working far removed from IT oversight or expertise, HPC implementations typically fall under the jurisdiction of business users, be they engineers, scientists, or researchers, according to many executives. Some organizations do include HPC under IT's jurisdiction; this approach was rare among conference attendees. But new business and technological trends are beginning to reshape the HPC environment, generating additional interest in these powerful solutions.
Big Data: As big data continues making steady inroads across corporations, traditional IT departments are likely to consider HPC as the solution to their data-management and data-storage dilemmas, many executives agreed. Big data will be a big driver for expanded enterprise use of HPC if vendors can meet enterprise requirements, according to Intersect360.
Cloud: Several cloud developers were on-hand at Enterprise HPC and a number of discussions sprung up around integrating HPC into the cloud.
"One of the great things about cloud is it gives you the ability to turn it on where you need it and turn it off when you don't," said Tim Carroll, vice president of sales and ecosystems at Cycle Computing, during a panel discussion moderated by Steve Campbell, general manager of Tabor Insights.
Cloud complements HPC, said Wolfgang Gentzsch, co-founder and president of TheUberCloud, during a keynote presentation."HPC cloud does not replace what you have. Not on your desk. Not on your server around the corner, at least in this transition phase, which might take five years or so," he said. "With cloud you add more power to your existing environment at your fingertips. We get there faster. This could be about time to market. There are all these dimensions. You could be faster or, in the same time, you could do more. At the end of the day, for many engineers, cloud is really cheaper so what we recommend in almost all situations is a hybrid approach."
Executive Support: To succeed, HPC advocates – regardless of department or role – must find a high-level champion for the first foray into the technology. After the pilot or first implementation, it's critical to then detail all benefits the HPC solution delivered, executives agreed.
"An internal champion is definitely needed," said Merle Giles, director of economic impact and private sector programs at the National Center for Supercomputer Applications (NCSA) and co-author of Industrial Applications of High-Performance Computing: Best Global Practices. " Starting with a business problem absolutely makes the most sense.
Seek Partners: Many developers want to work with enterprise applications and will personalize their services and offerings to meet enterprise customers' needs, executives said. Storage developer DDN, for example, teams closely with its customers to determine which of its products meet their specific requirements, said Molly Rector, chief marketing officer and executive vice president of product management. This enables businesses to accelerate results while maintaining stability and achieving security requirements, she said.
Added Arden Anderson, manager of design analysis at Mercury Marine: "We generally start with pilot programs and work with our vendors. We've been pretty successful with getting other people to demonstrate the problems. GPU utilization is an example. The initial HPC stuff is an example. Relying on our partners in the HPC industry is a way to take some risk off of us."
Government organizations including OakRidge National Labs and Argonne National Laboratory have programs that provide the private sector and non-profits with access to its HPC solutions and expertise via the HPC Industrial Partnerships Program.
"We want to make time available, and expertise available, to help companies solve problems that are greater than what they can do internally but if they could solve them would help make them a great competitive leap," said Suzy Tichenor, director of the HPC Industrial Partner Program. "We're agnostic as to whether a co is large, medium ,or small."
Spread the Word: Having achieved success, HPC implementers should share their prowess with colleagues, attendees recommended. If they do so, enterprises may find other uses for HPC solutions in other departments, they said.
DDN Storage, Seagate and SuperMicro were keynote sponsors of Enterprise HPC. Penguin and SGI were silver sponsors. Bronze sponsors included Altair, ASRock Rack, Cray, Cycle Computing, Lenovo, QCT, Ryft, and Tabor Insights Group.