[Beowulf] Beowulf SysAdmin Job Description

Steve Herborn herborn at usna.edu
Mon May 4 14:12:40 PDT 2009


> Definitely possible.

>Yeah.  Shortly after Windows becomes the clustering solution of choice for
HPC.  Or Linux wins the desktop.

>Sorry for the sarcasm, but I don't think HPC administration is as similar
to mainstream IT as it appears.  That doesn't mean the suits >won't try to
integrate it into their structure, but they'll either determine that a plain
ol' administrator hasn't learned about
>mpich[1||2], openmpi, mvapich, fortran of any flavor, myrinet, infiniband,
gluster, lustre, etc.

I was quite specific in my "not as it stands today stance" in my original
message.  Clusters are definitely beginning to mainstream, sort of right on
the cusp as it where.  If there is continued success in using them in the
"Business World" they will become commodities of the IT shop like so many
other special purpose tools that mainstreamed.

>The prototypical Unix IT administrator is not likely to be able to wander
into someone's molecular dynamics code today, and another's >weather code
tomorrow, and help find why they're both crashing.

And a typical business is not going to be running both molecular dynamics
code & weather code.  They will be special purpose machines used for making
money, manipulating money, or mitigating the risk of money.  As it seems
that the Finacial Sector is where they are taking of the fastest in the
business world right now.

>There's definitely an apprenticeship required to become an HPC admin and
support person.

Without a doubt since it is usually easier to teach the IT to a Scientist
then to teach the Science to an IT Geek.  However, they do both have their
place in the universe.  In business the opportunity for the slave-labor of a
Grad-Student just so infrequently exists.  Hence the ability to do what you
describe below just doesn't exist there, nor is it really needed.

>I refer to that as "sacrificing a graduate student to the cluster ghods".
We take someone who was promising enough to get into the
>program on the merit of their capabilities, and then, based on (usually) a
heretofore unappreciated ability to log in, get a terminal >prompt, and
execute 'ls', they spend the next 5-10 years learning the care and feeding
of their research group's cluster.  They're 
>eventually awarded a terminal degree, and often have earned it, but they've
worked harder than their fellow grad students because to 
>accomplish their research AND manage the cluster... AND support their
fellows' and boss' needs when things broke in code.  Or, the 
>several unfortunate ones I've seen, where they do become a skilled
administrator and HPC user, but never really learn their science,
>and are paroled with the degree anyway at some point (usually 9 years here:
a student starts losing courses at 10 years in a program 
>and is usually removed from it at that point thanks to our State

I've always pitied the poor fool who pisses away 9/10 years of his life in
the quest of knowing more about one particular thing then I've ever cared

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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