[Beowulf] Gentoo in the HPC environment
landman at scalableinformatics.com
Wed Jun 25 09:43:50 PDT 2014
Instead of letting this devolve into a distro battle (I have no dog in
that race, but I know from long hard experience what to avoid), it makes
more sense to look at the bigger picture.
In the larger frame, a cluster is a mechanism to provide computing
cycles. The keepers of the cluster are service folks, in the sense that
they are providing a shared resource with specific functionality, and
providing a service to the internal (and sometimes external) consumers
of the service.
In this day and age of software defined everything, a cluster needs to
be as flexible as possible, and provide the necessary level and type of
service to be viable. Not simply economically viable, but practical,
Which means cluster admins and service teams need to address many
different environmental issues and requests.
In academic circles, where there may be less of a push for commercial
support on software, these requirements may be relaxed relative to other
In commercial circles, where one might need to guarantee results (for
any number of reasons, and yes, this happens), the environments are far
How can a provider of cycles provide service to a rigid set of
requirements without being flexible?
My argument is, fundamentally, that technologies like kvm, and Docker on
Linux provide a simple mechanism for that functionality. On Windows
(very few windows clusters, but still) you can do this with HyperV.
So the details of what runs at the base level on the cluster matter far
less than the detailed requirements and the business needs for the
application. The latter should determine the former, and if the latter
requires something different than the former supplies, kvm/Docker etc.
can provide this. So can bare metal stateless.
Or conversely, you could simply provide exactly one type of computing,
and watch your users go elsewhere, specifically to resources that will
give them what they require. Somehow that seems to be not-precisely
what this crowd would want though.
Its just a thought though. Gentoo or not doesn't matter as much as
*how* your users need to use it. Thats the point of pain. If the
distro can't handle it, or isn't supported correctly, yes, you'll need
to change. If your cycle provider is rigid in what they will provide,
its pretty easy to go to another cycle provider.
This is what clusters in clouds have created. This is why there are
folks like Cycle Computing for cloud based clusters, and many good folks
like Sabalcore with bare metal systems. Application and business needs
dictate platform choices.
Joseph Landman, Ph.D
Founder and CEO
Scalable Informatics, Inc.
email: landman at scalableinformatics.com
web : http://scalableinformatics.com
twtr : @scalableinfo
phone: +1 734 786 8423 x121
cell : +1 734 612 4615
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