HPC as Services
SRII Special Interest Group for High Performance Computing
Wolfgang Gentzsch, Senior HPC Consultant, December 20, 2011
For many centuries, theory and experiment have provided the solid fundament for accelerating science and engineering, and they have been the engine for great discoveries and inventions. But, when restricting ourselves to just this two-pillar fundament, often, we are facing natural limits. For example, setting up alife like experiment that demonstrates the genesis of our universe, or another one that simulates the plasma protuberances in our sun, both seem to be completely impossible, for good reasons. Or just performing experiments for supersonic flows around airplanes in a wind tunnel would cause unnatural interference of the shock waves with the walls of the wind tunnel and lead to distorted flow patterns. Or performing and evaluating the many real-life crash tests which are needed to find the safest car body geometry and materials would simply be too expensive and time consuming.
Recently, the advent of high-performance computer simulations, electronic data processing, and sophisticated application software resulted in a third pillar for science and engineering providing another revolutionary break through for the community. In the early days, High Performance Computing (HPC) was the realm of monolithic and expensive supercomputers; and only a small community of experts could afford and handle them, usually educated in multiple disciplines, being a physicist, a programmer, and a computer specialist at the same time, and with many years of experience in all these fields.
But finally, and luckily, this picture is changing. With the appearance of commodity and standard computing system components HPC itself is more and more becoming a commodity and the users are able to purchase an HPC system which fits their budgets, often with integrated middleware stack and applications, and factory certified and delivered ready-to-go. Today, the users come across a wide spectrum of HPC solutions, from technical workstations to very high end TOP 500 macho-flops systems, different architectures from loosely coupled clusters to tightly interconnected systems with hundreds of thousands of cores, and from many IT vendors around the world, large and small.
And, the HPC paradigm is currently changing again, from system oriented monolithic computers to service oriented user-friendly computing infrastructures, i.e. users are becoming more and more ‘decoupled’ from the underlying system; the system presents the application as a service; and the handling of the application environment from a user perspective is becoming intuitive. And finally, the advent of cloud computing, and with it HPC in the Cloud, is culminating in HPC as a Service, HPCaaS.
With all these changes happening over the past 10 years, the acceptance of HPC and with it the HPC user community are currently growing steadily and generating new groups of HPC users, e.g. in the so-called mid-market of small and medium-size enterprises, an example being digital manufacturing.
To help drive research and innovation for HPC enabled services for further improving sciences and engineering, we propose to found a global Special Interest Group for High Performance Computing as part of the SRII Service Research and Innovation Institute. One of the key objectives of this SRII SIG for HPC is to closely cooperate with major IT companies having an interest in HPC services, and in close partnership with academia, research institutes, as well as government organizations from around the world.
The SRII SIG for HPC’s Major Strategies Include the Following:
- Gain a deeper understanding of usage models and future requirements of the HPC service industry.
- Focus on major HPC service domains and disciplines such as: HPC technology platforms, business process and product life cycle tools and models, information management, service and operation management, human factor engineering,...etc.
- Help develop and drive strategic IT services technology road map, standards, methodologies, processes, tools, skills, regulations, …etc.
- Build partnership/alignment with other professional HPC service organizations.
- University programs and partnerships to help grow future skills and strategy for the service economy.
- SIG for HPC with membership from industry (large, medium, small), academia/Institutions, professional organizations, individual professionals, and university students.
- Participating in the SRII Annual Conference, in the Annual Face-to-Face Meeting, and in SRII Global Chapters around the world, and collaborating with other related SRII SIG, e.g. with the SIG on Cloud Computing.