August 27, 2012
The pressure to reduce the cost of doing business is an unrelenting theme for most companies and IT departments. IT managers and administrators have more choices today than the traditional “one size fits all” notion when it comes to HPC environments. Many in the HPC community are closely evaluating not just whether HPC workloads are appropriate for cloud environments, but how to best leverage cloud computing to be meet their organization’s needs.
A business case for HPC clouds
A cloud infrastructure allows organizations to respond to user demands in minutes rather than weeks. HPC infrastructure can be shared, and the required computing resources needed to support an application are either already present or can be rapidly incorporated into the cloud pool. Cloud management software enables internal and external resources to be provisioned on the fly, rather than being requisitioned, purchased, installed and configured – a time consuming and expensive process. By removing or streamlining entrenched silos, organizations can benefit from an inflexible legacy infrastructure to one that responds to new business or user needs in real time.
Automation, self-service and the delivery of application services put control in the hands of the IT managers and administrators — they are able to more efficiently balance all their resources to meet the constantly changing demands of application users. The users can then request the precise resources they need for a specific application with the confidence they will get it quickly. The bottom line for the organization is faster delivery of HPC services, which speeds up time to results and, in the business world, allows the company to be more competitive.
Building a Private HPC Cloud at DuPont
DuPont is building a dynamic, multi-disciplined R&D computing platform using a hybrid private cloud-cluster infrastructure model. This new model allows the DuPont computing group to save administrative cost, reduce capital investments, simplify and consolidate the overall infrastructure while simultaneously meeting client requirements for a highly dynamic, diverse environment.
View this recent webcast which addresses the requirements, challenges and architectural decisions made in the implementation of this computing platform at DuPont.
Architectural design: public, private or hybrid?
Cloud computing can take various forms, leading to the current confusion about how to define the term. The two major types of clouds are public and private clouds
Private clouds are used by organizations to pool internal IT resources for shared use and to increase overall resource utilization. A key benefit of implementing a private cloud is that control and security can be handled internally. Departments can negotiate pricing contracts with internal IT based on their requirements or skip billing altogether when the cloud is treated as a shared resource.
Private clouds also allow organizations to have greater visibility and control over mission critical service level agreements (SLAs). In addition, they support IT’s obligation to oversee fundamental corporate requirements including governance, compliance, business continuity, cost reduction, and risk management.
The value of a private cloud management platform is independent of location and ownership of the resources. In addition to using internal data center resources, a private cloud may also incorporate resources from external public clouds. Known as cloud bursting, this hybrid model can help an organization avoid the need of provisioning for peak aggregate resource demands.
A hybrid approach can be very advantageous for HPC environments because it can provide the extra power boost needed to complete a workload whose requirement is larger than the available resources in the local datacenter. In particular, a cloud bursting approach should be considered for the following:
With public clouds, a service provider makes computational, storage, and other IT resources available over the Internet to customers that range from individuals to organizations as diverse as enterprises, government, and academia. Public clouds provide capital and operating expense reductions by allowing customers to pay for use instead of owning assets. In addition, they can provide a potentially wider range of hardware, scalability and expertise than may be available in-house.
Public clouds are located outside the corporate firewall and are managed by a 3rd party hosting provider. These clouds have their own set of services that may not meet the internal needs of an organization. They are generalized compute platforms that are designed to handle generic types of user demand, often in the form of a limited selection of virtual machines. While this is sufficient for some individuals and applications, such public clouds may unsuitable for HPC applications where the performance impact is simply too large. However, the only way for an organization to know whether or not external resources are appropriate is to benchmark cloud resources against their internal system.
To add an additional layer of complexity, not all IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) providers are created equal. IBM has developed a whitepaper that evaluates the merits and challenges of public clouds from both a qualitative and quantitative standpoint, contrasting three separate IaaS providers against specific criteria important to HPC users. To compare the IaaS providers, IBM ran benchmarks that were representative of the types of application workloads used by most HPC users. The paper is designed for architects or data center managers considering the use of public cloud infrastructure to augment their HPC environments. It includes guidance on how to evaluate key include factors such as pure performance, reliability and instantiation speed.
Business barriers to building a cloud
In addition to architectural implications, there are some business barriers to consider when thinking about whether cloud will fit into an HPC environment, such as:
HPC users can now move beyond the “one size fits all” notion when it comes to HPC environments. There are still lots of choices available to HPC users today, and one of those choices is cloud computing. Under the right conditions with the right management software, the cloud can be very useful for HPC applications.
IBM Platform Computing solutions for HPC Cloud are designed to transform static computing resources into flexible, high performance clouds that can be shared, remotely managed and easily provisioned. For more information, visit ibm.com/platformcomputing or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Researchers from the Suddhananda Engineering and Research Centre in Bhubaneswar, India developed a job scheduling system, which they call Service Level Agreement (SLA) scheduling, that is meant to achieve acceptable methods of resource provisioning similar to that of potential in-house systems. They combined that with an on-demand resource provisioner to ensure utilization optimization of virtual machines.
Experimental scientific HPC applications are continually being moved to the cloud, as covered here in several capacities over the last couple of weeks. Included in that rundown, Co-founder and CEO of CloudSigma Robert Jenkins penned an article for HPC in the Cloud where he discussed the emergence of cloud technologies to supplement research capabilities of big scientific initiatives like CERN and ESA (the European Space Agency)...
When considering moving excess or experimental HPC applications to a cloud environment, there will always be obstacles. Were that not the case, the cost effectiveness of cloud-based HPC would rule the high performance landscape. Jonathan Stewart Ward and Adam Barker of the University of St. Andrews produced an intriguing report on the state of cloud computing, paying a significant amount of attention to the problems facing cloud computing.
Jun 19, 2013 |
Ruan Pethiyagoda, Cameron Boehmer, John S. Dvorak, and Tim Sze, trained at San Francisco’s Hack Reactor, an institute designed for intense fast paced learning of programming, put together a program based on the N-Queens algorithm designed by the University of Cambridge’s Martin Richards, and modified it to run in parallel across multiple machines.
Jun 17, 2013 |
With that in mind, Datapipe hopes to establish themselves as a green-savvy HPC cloud provider with their recently announced Stratosphere platform. Datapipe markets Stratosphere as a green HPC cloud service and in doing so partnering with Verne Global and their Icelandic datacenter, which is known for its propensity in green computing.
Jun 12, 2013 |
Cloud computing is gaining ground in utilization by mid-sized institutions who are looking to expand their experimental high performance computing resources. As such, IBM released what they call Redbooks, in part to assist institutions’ movement of high performance computing applications to the cloud.
Jun 06, 2013 |
The San Diego Supercomputer Center launched a public cloud system for universities in the area designed specifically to run on commodity hardware with high performance solid-state drives. The center, which currently holds 5.5 PB of raw storage, is open to educational and research users in the University of California.
05/10/2013 | Cleversafe, Cray, DDN, NetApp, & Panasas | From Wall Street to Hollywood, drug discovery to homeland security, companies and organizations of all sizes and stripes are coming face to face with the challenges – and opportunities – afforded by Big Data. Before anyone can utilize these extraordinary data repositories, however, they must first harness and manage their data stores, and do so utilizing technologies that underscore affordability, security, and scalability.
04/02/2012 | AMD | Developers today are just beginning to explore the potential of heterogeneous computing, but the potential for this new paradigm is huge. This brief article reviews how the technology might impact a range of application development areas, including client experiences and cloud-based data management. As platforms like OpenCL continue to evolve, the benefits of heterogeneous computing will become even more accessible. Use this quick article to jump-start your own thinking on heterogeneous computing.