Platform HPC Enterprise Edition Launched

Application performance is no longer relying on the computer clock speed – parallelization is the only way to dramatically scale application performance. Referred to as a cluster, it is the foundation to scale an application, but unlike an operating system on single machine (i.e., Linux), setting up and using a cluster remains a daunting task for many users. Why? First, there are multiple software components that are required to run the applications in a cluster environment. This includes parallelization libraries (MPI), job distribution workload management, and administrative cluster management. Second, all these components must be integrated to work together. Though they seem to install fine, they often break in production. So, can these software components be packaged, integrated, and tested together up-front to behave more reliably like an operating system?

Pre-assembling cluster software with hardware has been tried in the past by many different user organizations and usually resulted in complicated, time-consuming systems to manage. Platform Computing has taken on this challenge to solve this problem. The launch of Platform HPC Enterprise Edition is a more complete offering, as compared to their previous launch of Platform HPC Workgroup Edition last year. What I like is their unique seamless integration between cluster management and workload management along with their MPI library and system monitoring. In my experience, now both users and administrators can get their job done by interfacing through a single unified web portal. This makes a cluster more like a single operating system. The product’s single install and single user interface makes a highly technical and complex high performance Linux cluster easy to use for the average cluster user.

Join Platform on May 26, 2010, at 11:00 a.m. ET for a webinar to discuss the product features, capabilities and benefits of the new Platform HPC Enterprise Edition.

Making the HPC lifecycle easier

Last week, I attended the IDC HPC User Forum in the Detroit area. Among the many interesting topics discussed at the Forum was how HPC helps manufacturing firms remain competitive. Large organizations are definitely in leading positions when it comes to HPC. After many years of investment, there is a lot of well established HPC expertise within large companies. IDC data shows the main hurdle for HPC getting penetration beyond those large
organizations is the cost of dealing with complexity of HPC systems. This includes cluster setup and getting applications optimized to take advantage of the latest hardware.

Many HPC vendors provide open source software stacks so that users can avoid hunting down their own components. This helps simplify HPC system setup to a certain degree. However, because many HPC software components are not designed to work together by their nature, users still face the challenge of integrating them to get them work together seamlessly. I talked to many of the attendees of IDC HPC User Forum, and they’ve all spent a tremendous amount of time and effort setting up their HPC environments. Many of them admitted this would be an impossible mission for average manufacturing firms.

With the goal of simplifying HPC cluster life cycle management, Platform’s HPC Suite, which includes HPC Enterprise Edition and HPC Workgroup Edition, provides one-stop shopping for those who don’t have the expertise to deal with the complexity of the HPC system software stack and application integrations. Offered through Platform Computing’s hardware partners, the HPC Suite (or HPC Workgroup Edition) helps average users get applications up and running with optimized performance. The key differentiator of this offering is that it provides the necessary software components to connect the OS to applications in an HPC cluster environment. By working closely with our hardware partners, we’re in the process of certifying he solution and and optimizing it for their specific hardware. With the application integrations, users can start to run parallel applications right away.

For more on the HPC Suite, check our products page here.

Raining on the Private Cloud Parade is Short Sighted

The private vs. public cloud debate of 2009 has taken a turn for the nasty in the IT trade publications and blogosphere. Recently, CIO Zone writer Michael Neubarth published an exhaustive summary of the debate and case against private clouds in an article entitled “Are Private Clouds Hogwash?” This has once again lit up the raging debate among bloggers such as Lorraine Lawson and Michael Kavis with each wondering whether private clouds actually exist and who they actually would ideally serve—vendors jumping on marketing hype-machine bandwagons (which Kavis calls “cloudwashing”) or actual enterprises in need of a different computing model.

If private clouds are hogwash, then so are clouds in general. Here’s why:

· Cloud is a delivery model or style of computing. This kind of computing is equally as applicable to IT service providers and those than run IT as an internal private service as it is to those who offer external or public services.

· The notion of private vs. public is separate from what’s internal and external. Private and public and internal and external need not all be mutually exclusive.

· Platform Computing looks at this style of computing in terms of how the computing is distributed. Clusters, grids, clouds—these terms are generally accepted to define an architecture. Private and public clouds are generally accepted terms that convey real markets, real architectures and real opportunities. Each of these are meaningfully different and worth contrasting.

· The private market is already and will be larger than the public cloud market for the foreseeable future, with Gartner forecasting the private clouds dominating 75% of the cloud market vs. 25% for public throughout 2010 and 2011.

· Clouds cannot be defined as just VMs or just outsourced IT. Limiting clouds to these misses the point of cloud. The fact is that most public cloud providers (such as Google) run on physical servers and most of these providers envy the type of secure internal/private environments that enterprise IT departments have just as much as those internal IT departments envy the ability to run systems on commoditized, homogenous, scaleable architectures.

Ultimately, both types of cloud sit on two sides of the same coin. Private clouds are real, not hogwash or cloudwash. They’re not going away any time soon and companies are already implementing them whether they’re called “clouds” or not.

Wag the Dog: Private Clouds are Key to Regaining Supply Chain Control

We’ve been talking a lot about control issues here at Platform. Not in the Janet Jackson, Type-A sense of the word, but rather as it relates to private cloud computing and who’s in control of IT resources at most organizations. The most common association as it relates to cloud is the perceived delegation of control to business users. I say "perceived" because with private clouds IT will still own the service catalog to ensure compliance, budget adherence, etc. Digging a bit deeper, however, you find the Fortune 500 using private clouds in an entirely different control angle: vendor leverage.

Now, as a vendor providing a private cloud solution, you might find this a bit odd for us to talk about vendor leverage, perhaps even blasphemous. My perspective is coming not as an observer of the cloud vendor war going on in the industry right now, however, but rather from speaking with our customers and prospects that are tired of the big-vendor lock-in that they have inherited from architectures of years gone by, and see a private cloud as an opportunity to shift some things around and get the ball back in their court.

Interested? I recently wrote a piece for on the topic-
Wag the Dog: Private Clouds are Key to Regaining Supply Chain Control. Take a look and let me know what you think.

CloudCamp Toronto – April 6, 2010

I had the opportunity to attend my third Toronto CloudCamp event last night. There was a good turnout of about 100 people who came together to talk about cloud and the issues that organizations face in adopting and using cloud.

Overall the event was quite good. I found the breakout sessions to be the most valuable, because you have a chance to discuss a specific topic in more detail with a smaller group of people who are more interested and active in that particular aspect of cloud.

I participated in two breakout sessions that are relevant to the cloud activities we see here at Platform Computing. Here are my thoughts and perspectives on the topics and the discussions.

Session 1 - - Porting applications to the cloud

Like all of the sessions, this was suggested by someone in the audience who was interested in a deeper discussion about the challenges in moving traditional/legacy applications into a cloud model. From what we at Platform have seen in the market, this is one of the key challenges enterprises face in moving forward with cloud adoption. Many organizations start with a simple non-production cloud environment for Dev/Test, but the real ‘fun’ begins as they define a cloud strategy that supports complex production application environments. In our experience, understanding the needs of the application and balancing that with the management of resource supply are key to building an effective cloud.

Session 2 - ROI that organizations can expect to achieve from the cloud

This is another hot topic for organizations as they evaluate their cloud options. The promise of shifting capital expenditures to operating expenses by using a public cloud is one that intrigues many end-user organizations but has some challenges. The ability to dial-up and down their infrastructure based on business demand is a key value that end-users see in the cloud, along with the increased agility of being able to tap into resources as they need them. From a customer perspective, we see internal IT organizations working to provide these services to end users within their organization by building private clouds. This allows the enterprise to gain the cost benefit of a shared infrastructure while maintaining control and meeting end-user agility needs. Many organizations that we have dealt with particularly with a history in grid computing (large scale compute intensive processing) can achieve the necessary economies of scale and sharing within their own private cloud environment.

All in all, CloudCamp continues to be a good event to get a wider community perspective on cloud and cloud adoption. I look forward to participating in future events and getting to the next level of deeper discussions within the community.