[Beowulf] how Google warps your brain

Joe Landman landman at scalableinformatics.com
Thu Oct 21 09:10:35 PDT 2010

On 10/21/2010 11:19 AM, Bill Rankin wrote:


> In order to make it work, you really need the senior leadership of
> the university to commit to making central HPC infrastructure an
> absolute requirement, and sticking to that commitment when it comes
> budget time and the politics are running hot and heavy over who gets
> how much.

Agreed.  These battles can be fierce.  And if you add in a decidedly 
non-HPC IT organization as a player, HPC can take some different 
directions.  Especially on some of the baseline infrastructure decisions.

> Now to most of us this is a rehash of a conversation that we have had
> often before.  And with clusters and HPC pretty much established as a
> necessity for any major research university, the development of
> central facilities would seem to be the obvious solution.  I find it
> somewhat concerning that institutions like Harvard are apparently
> still dealing with this issue.

Its a long list of major research institutions, which have a less 
powerful admin and more powerful departments.  These don't even tend to 
be a federated set of clusters (or clouds).  More like clusters/HPC in 

Its a good idea to share the need/costs/benefits among many departments 
... lowers costs, increases utility, etc.  The issue is, as Bill noted, 
come budget time, when the long knives are out, whether or not HPC 
survives intact, or is carved up and allocated in a less than (nearly) 
optimal manner.

Maybe HPC needs to be its own department, then it can fight for its own 
budgets.  Have a supercomputing institute (ala MSI at U Minnesota) 
provide leadership, infrastructure, space, resources.  Its a model that 
could work at different scales for other universities.

Joseph Landman, Ph.D
Founder and CEO
Scalable Informatics Inc.
email: landman at scalableinformatics.com
web  : http://scalableinformatics.com
phone: +1 734 786 8423 x121
fax  : +1 866 888 3112
cell : +1 734 612 4615

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