[Beowulf] Definition of HPC

Tim Cutts tjrc at sanger.ac.uk
Fri Apr 19 09:10:37 PDT 2013

On 18 Apr 2013, at 19:45, Adam DeConinck <ajdecon at ajdecon.org> wrote:

> Tying in another recent discussion on the list, "root access" is
> actually one of the places I've seen some success using Cloud for HPC.
> It costs more, it's virtualized, and you usually can't get 
> HPC-specialized hardware, so it's obviously not a silver bullet for 
> all kinds of systems research... but on the other hand, you're free of 
> sysadmin tyranny and can experiment as much as you like. And none of the
> other users will scream at you when they learn you were responsible for 
> killing their jobs, *again*.

It's one of the primary use cases I've been thinking about for private cloud provision here.

It does have a couple of problems that worry me though:

1) It has support implications.  Some users are often happy enough to say "yes, I know I'm not going to get any help and support in here".  Until the moment they actually need that support, of course.

2) There comes the moment that they want to turn that experimental thing, which they developed without any consideration of the wider IT world they're living in, into a production thing.  They've invested months of development, and now demand that the production environment be bent into a new shape to accommodate their new thing, because they have neither the time nor the inclination to modify it to fit the existing infrastructure.

Anyone running a research computing setup has encountered both of these issues.  Virtualisation mitigates the damage that can be done, without the expense of an separate toy cluster, but it doesn't address these support and transition to production issues.


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