IDC: High-performance computing poses challenges for SMBs

Public clouds could help, but are still too costly

Cloud computing could help boost the use of high-performance computing (HPC) among small and medium-size businesses, but there are hurdles that have to be overcome before that can happen, IDC said on Monday during a presentation at the International Supercomputing Conference in Hamburg, Germany.

Today, small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) that, for example, design parts for the automotive or aerospace industry or work in the oil and gas or financial industries have a lot of experience using workstations, but are uncertain about how make the first step to a server, Earl Joseph, program vice president of IDC's High-Performance Systems, said.

"The majority of the work they do is still single threaded and single processor," Joseph said.

Just like in other areas, SMBs companies have to overcome a lack of knowledge about HPC. To get over that hump they need hand-holding of the type that allows them to solve their specific challenges, rather than a general HPC course, according to IDC.

Potential users at many SMBs need help to get started and explain to management what the benefits could be, according to IDC.

A related problem for SMBs is the cost of software. What users have to justify is not just US$25,000 for a piece of hardware, but a business case for $150,000 in total annual system costs, according to Steve Conway, research vice president in IDC's High Performance Computing group.

The main advantage of moving to HPC systems is better performance, being able to run a simulation much faster, according to Conway. A job that may have taken a week on a workstation can instead be completed in a couple of hours, he said.

One of the ways that smaller companies could take advantage of HPC is by using cloud services. In general, cloud computing could help companies offload some workloads, according to IDC.

The raw performance is already there. Earlier this year, Amazon Web Services posted a blog detailing how a company could build a "Watson jr" in the cloud. IBM's Watson is the supercomputer that defeated two Jeopardy game show champions in a two-game match. It uses SUSE Linux Enterprise Server as its OS and comprises 90 IBM Power 750 servers.

However, cloud computing is simply too costly for many SMBs right now, according to IDC.

One way for cloud providers to lower costs for SMBs would be to sell unused cycles in the cloud at a discount to HPC users, according to Joseph. If that happens, cloud-based HPC would take off much faster, he said.

Cloud security is also an area that rears it ugly head. For example, if you are developing a new engine, you don't want the competition to either get a hold of the blueprints or the tools used to develop. For some, the security is never going to be enough to run the HPC applications will never be enough. But for most users security issues are either solved, or will be soon, according to Joseph.

"The other big issue that needs to be [addressed], and I think it is very much a solvable one, is how you configure your cloud so you can actually to run any HPC job well, as far as the software stack and various parameters," said Joseph.

For HPC environments to work at their best, every part of the application stack has to be optimized and run the right versions of an application, according to Joseph.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Amazon Web ServicessupercomputersIDCHigh performancehardware systems

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Mikael Ricknäs

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?