The cloud: High performance computing's best hope?

Most organizations' configurations, says Cycle Computing's Jason Stowe, are "too small when you need it most, too large every other time."
Written by Dan Kusnetzky, Contributor
The cloud High performance computing best hope

At the recent ISC Cloud' 13 conference, Jason Stowe, CEO of Cycle Computing, presented an interesting assessment of the growing needs many companies have for on-demand high performance computing.

Cycle Computing's main points

Cycle Computing believes that the easy availability of high performance computing — that is, the ability to address the largest and most complicated computing task by harnessing together the power of hundreds, or perhaps, thousands, of computers — will improve the capabilities of many companies that previously were not able to use high performance computing.

Organizations that wish to use this approach need a large budget for hardware, software, power, networking and storage, as well as high levels of expertise on hand — unless they turn to offerings from cloud service providers.

Which choice is the best isn't as simple as pressing the "cloud computing" button all of the time.

Organizations of all types and in all markets are facing reduced budgets and still must meet accelerated time lines to gather data, analyze it, and turn it into useful and actionable information. This cycle must be repeated faster and faster to meet organizational goals.

The key challenge is that this cycle often requires a huge number of systems, fast networks, and the expertise to set up an HPC configuration. Since this installation may only be needed a small portion of the time, the organization's HPC resources would sit idle and unproductive a good deal of the time. In Stowe's words, today's configurations are "too small when you need it most, too large every other time." Stowe pointed out that the industry is seeing this challenge when dealing with engineering, science, and even business analytics.

In the end, Stowe was happy to point out that his company, Cycle Computing, offers the tools and services to address this problem.

Snapshot Analysis

After reviewing his presentation, I tend to agree that it is clear that organizations of all sizes and in all markets have needs for computing that are intense at some times and nearly non-existent at others. Purchasing their own equipment, licensing their own software and setting up their own data centers may not be the correct choice. A better choice might be to use cloud services to perform the work.

On the other hand, the industry has seen organizations re-purpose their workstations, departmental servers and even business unit service in off hours to achieve their goals without having to over-provision the datacenter, over-buy software licenses, and let expensive resources sit idle when not needed.

Which choice is the best isn't as simple as pressing the "cloud computing" button all of the time. A thoughtful analysis of the organization's needs, its available resources, and staff expertise might suggest a different approach.

What is your organization doing to address its need for high performance computing, business analytics and research?

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