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occasional supercomputing

generic interconnects, rather than something more specialised, like InfiniBand. ‘But there is a lot happening in the interconnect industry at the moment as many companies look to build their own. Tis will drive down the cost and enable people to move to the more capable interconnects. In the meantime, it is important that the community move away from the use of non-HPC clouds.’ Another issue that Mellenberg cited was

that many cloud providers deliver hardware and some level of soſtware, but without offering users the level of knowledge needed for running applications on something that can be more complicated that a workstation. He said: ‘Providers may offer a few application licenses, but they won’t necessarily hold users’ hands in ensuring that everything is up and running.’ Tis brings us to the need for system administrators who can provide an understanding of Linux – as many clusters remain Linux-based – and how applications will run in parallel. Companies’ internal processes need to adapt in order to take advantage of cloud resources. Migrating jobs to the cloud is a change

process – a factor, said Transtec’s Oliver Tennert, behind cloud’s slow albeit steady adoption within the HPC community. He added that being able to analyse the resulting data in the cloud would be an ideal option were it not for the hurdles of network latency and the need to change workflows. Instead, the standard procedure for many users is to transfer the data out of the cloud and then back to a workstation for analysis. Should the technical challenges surrounding

beyond an individual principal investigator to purchase personal equipment, it would certainly be beyond them to buy focused resources for each of several tasks that they need to complete,’ said Convey Computer’s George Vacek. ‘Cloud resources on the other hand can provide very high-performance sub clusters that match each analysis requirement and problem type that a researcher may have.’ He added that if people are just beginning to do analytics, the cloud offers a way of sampling to see whether it would be a useful tool before any long-term investment is made.

Back down to Earth Cloud computing is not without its drawbacks. As mentioned earlier in this article, should use reach a sustained level then cloud becomes generally more expensive than purchasing outright. For occasional users, one significant cost is licensing. Dell’s Bart Mellenberg commented that the current licensing model l

means that this expense can easily exceed the cost of the hardware infrastructure of a small HPC cluster. ‘Even the more specific HPC cloud providers don’t offer all the licenses,’ he said. According to Mellenberg, the solution is for HPC cloud providers to speak with licensers to implement a pay-per-use model. While some already do this, the majority do not. Te difficulty, he added, is that the main independent soſtware vendors will need to accommodate this model. Interestingly, Mellenberg commented that

there are still not many providers who can offer a cost-effective cloud solution, and so elements of the HPC community are turning to cheaper, generic cloud providers in an effort to reduce expenditure as some applications, such as Monte Carlo calculations, can run well. Te problem is that these clouds oſten use


data transfer be solved, however, Tennert believes that workstations will become less important in the industry. He added that this will take at least a few years to occur, but before that happens one further problem that needs to be solved where cloud and other such on-demand services are concerned is the fear surrounding security. ‘Tere is currently no good answer for the secure transportation of data,’ said Tennert. ‘Tese external resources are shared resources and the danger lies in the fact that the data is not encrypted. Tis issue is not well addressed and I believe this will be an inhibiter for larger enterprises to migrate to a cloud infrastructure.’ Manolo Quiroga Teixeiro, co-founder and

R&D manager at Gridcore, added that whether companies choose to use the cloud or not, security is already a concern as researchers connect to IT resources and interact with data on a daily basis – they upload and download information, search databases, send emails, etc. Te main question should therefore be whether the cloud provider can match the policies for


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