Storage specialises in all-flash based storage systems, the point, from McMullan’s perspective, is that the convergence of technology such as machine learning, machine vision and traditional HPC with containerisation and private cloud infrastructure, is driving many different computing industries towards a similar data-centric model. ‘Traditionally HPC was a compute-

intensive job, with storage at the beginning and end acting almost as a mailbox and an aggregation point. But as the models have changed, the datasets have got bigger. We are no longer in SIMD computer-intensive space; the rise of Nvidia has changed that game hugely. Now, we have this massively parallel capability,’ said McMullan. ‘We could debate whether Larrabee

kicked it off 10 years ago, but we have now got a very clear idea of what HPC used to be, but even purists see that the label of HPC has become much wider, much more | @scwmagazine

broad and accessible. It is no longer about LINPACK, it is more about the datasets you have,’ added McMullan. For today’s HPC users, it seems that

there is less worry about the type of file system used but, rather, how the technology is deployed and how it can be consumed. This is where similarities between

technologies, such as object storage, cloud and software defined-storage start to become apparent. Although wildly different on the surface, their implementation aims to make storage more accessible, reliable or faster for users.

“Everything is a parallel processing job it’s just a question of how it’s being dressed up”

Object storage ‘Object storage was brought to our attention as the next big thing maybe six to eight years ago,’ said Dean. ‘To start with, object storage made a lot of sense for users that had, for example, an in- house application that could be developed to work specifically with an object storage application programming interface (API).’ Dean noted that one of the main

drawbacks of using this technology was that HPC users do not have just a single use case for a supercomputer. ‘They have huge quantities of storage, but many of our customers are research organisations doing lots of types of research with different use cases and storage requirements,’ added Dean. ‘That has been the thing that has

stopped the wider adoption of object storage within my customer base until this point. However, there are technologies that sit in front of object storage that

August/September 2018 Scientific Computing World 7 g

Andrew Derr/

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