[Beowulf] The True Cost of HPC Cluster Ownership

Gerry Creager gerry.creager at tamu.edu
Tue Aug 11 10:00:52 PDT 2009


Joe Landman wrote:
> Gerry Creager wrote:
>> Daniel Pfenniger wrote:
>>> Douglas Eadline wrote:
> [...]
>>> This article sounds unbalanced and self-serving.
>> I thought it read a bit like a chronicle of my recent experiences.
> I think that this article is fine, not unbalanced.  What I like to point 
> out to customers and partners is
>     There is a cost to *EVERYTHING*
> Heinlein called it TANSTAAFL.  Every single decision you make carries 
> with it a set of costs.
> What purchasing agents, looking at the absolute rock bottom prices do 
> not seem to grasp, is that those costs can *easily* swamp any purported 
> gains from a lower price, and raise the actual landed price, due to 
> expending valuable resource time (Gerry et al) for months on end working 
> to solve problems that *should* have been solved previously.
> There is a cost to going cheap.  This cost is time, and loss of 
> productivity.  If your time (your students time) is free, and you don't 
> need to pay for consequences (loss of grants, loss of revenue, loss of 
> productivity, ...) in delayed delivery of results from computing or 
> storage systems, then, by all means, roll these things yourself, and 
> deal with the myriad of debugging issues in making the complex beasts 
> actually work.  You have hardware stack issues, software stack issues, 
> interaction issues, ...
> What I am saying is that Doug is onto something here.  It ain't easy. 
> Doug simply expressed that it isn't.
> As for the article being self serving?  I dunno, I don't think so.  Doug 
> runs a consultancy called Basement Supercomputing that provides services 
> for such folks.  I didn't see overt advertisements, or even, really, 
> covert "hire us" messages.  I think this was fine as a white paper, and 
> Doug did note that it started life as one.
> My $0.02

Gerry Creager -- gerry.creager at tamu.edu
Texas Mesonet -- AATLT, Texas A&M University
Cell: 979.229.5301 Office: 979.458.4020 FAX: 979.862.3983
Office: 1700 Research Parkway Ste 160, TAMU, College Station, TX 77843

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