[Beowulf] General cluster management tools - Re: Southampton engineers a Raspberry Pi Supercomputer

Mark Hahn hahn at mcmaster.ca
Sun Sep 16 08:53:30 PDT 2012


> post about people and politics: The myth that commercial software has
> better support. It seems managers always want to buy commercial software
> it's supposed to have better support.

it's about risk aversion.  when people are launched (or climb) into 
positions of authority, their risk aversion goes through the roof.
some people/organizations try to address this; others just become 
sclerotic.

it's really unfortunate and actually relevant to this list.  at one time,
"beowulf" implied a certain amount of daring - repurposing of hardware
intended basically for desktop use, DIY OS installs, custom-compiled 
applications, etc.

how many clusters built this year will just be a bunch of nodes bid 
from a big-name vendor?  I suspect that tweaking (inherently risky,
but also inherently valuable) is pretty much limited to tiny clusters,
where no risk-averse personage is involved.  I think this is a real 
shame, since it means there basically are no interesting clusters 
anymore: every meal is gruel (you can survive that way, but...)

I sometimes wonder whether organizations should aim a particular 
fraction of their budget at higher-risk projects.  I know companies 
like google and facebook are quite deliberate at cultivating risk,
but there's a lot less derring-do in, say, a multi-institutional
academic HPC consortium.

is it just a matter of risk-to-payoff calculations?  it's hard to 
supply either number, which leads the risk-averse to always go conservative.
(a phenomenon present in politics, I suppose!)


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