I have written about the attraction of public clouds such as Amazon Web Services for raw computing power to support things like app dev and here in this guest blog post from CEO Bull UK & Ireland, Andrew Carr, we learn how high-performance computing is moving from the realms of academia and into the SME.
High Performance Computing on demand attracts SME interest
By Andrew Carr,
"We are seeing a radical shift in the high-performance computing (HPC) market today. Traditionally, it has been dominated by academic institutions with the necessary funding to take on big supercomputer projects. This is changing fast. Fuelled by an understanding of HPC's potential to reduce 'time to insight' and accelerate time-to-market, commercial organisations from engineering firms to geoscience companies are expressing interest in HPC. In the UK, the Government is playing its part too, recently announcing its intention to invest £270 million into research into quantum computing.
Talent and Technology - The Magic Formula for SMEs
The latest developments in the HPC market are now even bringing HPC into the orbit of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The emergence of a cloud-based approach to HPC - HPC-on-Demand is helping this previously neglected group harness the power of supercomputing for digital design and simulation and compete on a level playing field in this area with their larger enterprise peers.
This innovative approach enables SMEs to buy access to a supercomputing resource provided through the cloud on an as required basis rather than forcing them to make an upfront investment in a complex IT hardware implementation. They don't waste their investment by having infrastructure running idle.
The key to the success of any HPC-on-Demand service, especially for SMEs is flexibility. The customer can choose everything from the operating system to the task scheduler and the size of the storage capacity used. They should also have the flexibility to choose from a range of different services whether their preference is for Infrastructure as a Service (IAAS), Platform as a Service (PAAS) or Software as a Service (SAAS).
The other area that SMEs need to address is talent. Skills shortages still represent an obstacle to HPC's long-term success - and SMEs with their limited resources often struggle more than their larger enterprise peers to attract the right level of graduate.
Today, many universities in the UK are developing courses that respond to industry's needs. Also, there remains a rich source of people, even among non-technology graduates with the potential to become excellent HPC consultants. The question is how can industry attract and then develop this talent?
Some technology businesses are doing this themselves and building networks of HPC specialists to identify and develop people. Others are working with universities to provide post-grad and pre-grad education to introduce valuable skills to the market. SMEs can often tap into this emerging skills base by bringing in freelance consultants with the right level of expertise on an as required basis.
When they engage with recruiters to look for full time staff or freelance consultants, SMEs should look to deal with specialists that can spend time identifying what each is looking for. That means they may only deliver up two or three candidates for each available HPC spot but those candidates are more likely to fit the bill.
Delivering Enhanced Competitive Edge
Talent and technology are now coming together within SMEs, enabling them to profit from the new focus on HPC. With expert freelance or full-time consulting staff increasingly in place, SMEs are benefiting from the ability of HPC-on-Demand to drive 'time to insight' - the time taken between the presentation of the problem and reaching an understanding of how to solve it.
By shortening this cycle, SMEs have the opportunity to cut the product development phase, increase innovation time and reduce time to market. HPC-on-Demand gives SMEs the opportunity to drive through innovation, understand more complex issues, achieve more accurate and predictable outcomes and make solutions or services development faster and more efficient.
Perhaps most importantly of all, HPC-on-Demand enables SMEs to compete on a much more even basis with their larger rivals than ever before. It's an unprecedented shift in the balance of power and with the market set to develop further in the future, it is likely to be a sustained one."