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Private Cloud Investigator
November 20, 2013

In a recent Windows IT Pro webinar, two industry experts highlighted one of the most exciting new developments in the realm of cloud computing: the rise of High Performance Computing-as-a-Service (HPCaaS). In part two of this webinar, Paul Riviere, marketing program manager for HP's Hyperscale and High Performance Computing Business, built on the discussion started by Penton's Mel Beckman, offering further analysis and advice regarding the utilization of HPCaaS, specifically in regard to HP's solutions.

HP and HPCaaS
As Riviere noted, HP featured offerings very similar to HPCaaS even before as-a-Service came to prominence. Firms could utilize HPC functionality from HP's HPC Benchmarking Centers (located in the United States, Germany and France) and Flexible Computer Services, which essentially were targeted toward HPC.

Riviere went on to highlight Airbus's experience with HP Performance Optimized Data Centers (PODs) with large HP Cluster Platform based on HP BladeSystem. By leveraging these HPC solutions, Airbus was about to double its supercomputing power for three years in a row, while simultaneously decreasing its operating expenses and energy consumption within the HPC environment by 40 percent.

Additionally, by outsourcing these operations to HP, Airbus was able to devote its internal IT efforts toward serving customers, resulting in improved customer satisfaction.

HPCaaS, subcontractors and schools
One of the key points Riviere made in regard to HPCaaS is that it is the ideal solution for many subcontractors and other small to medium-sized firms. He pointed out that subcontractors comprised of fewer than 500 employees conduct approximately three-fourths of all research in the U.S. manufacturing sector, yet these firms also typically lag behind in HPC adoption. This is due to the fact that most HPC solutions are not targeted or scaled to SMB needs, making them cost-prohibitive. SMBs also often lack the expertise and experience needed to leverage these resources.

HPCaaS is ideal for these situations because it allows smaller firms to purchase as much performance as they need, whether ongoing or on a case-by-case basis. Additionally, the responsibility for managing HPCaaS environments falls to the provider, not the SMB itself.

Riviere also noted that HPCaaS is becoming increasingly popular for universities. IT departments in schools, such as Iowa State University and Purdue University have developed HPCaaS offerings that can be utilized by other departments within the institution, as well as outside groups.

Following this presentation, webinar attendees were able to ask questions of Beckman and Riviere. Over the course of this conversation, Beckman noted that when HPCaaS first appeared on the scene, it was actually more expensive than legacy HPC options. However, HPCaaS now enables organizations to greatly reduce labor costs, start small and slowly, then smoothly expand a system as needed, making it the superior option for most firms.

Beckman also asserted that HPCaaS is extremely valuable for web application hosting. Social media networks, for example, need HPC-level power to effectively maintain and profit from the complex, massive transactions they host daily.

Lastly, Riviere noted that HPCaaS allows SMBs' workers to break jobs up into smaller components, which can then be run faster and provide results quicker. Furthermore, HPCaaS lets these firms use OPEX, rather than CAPEX discretionary funding, which provides greater flexibility.