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Microsoft acquires Cycle Computing to lower barriers to HPC using cloud

Microsoft hits cloud acquisition trail to make high-performance computing accessible to a wider pool of enterprises

Microsoft wants to lower the cost and skills barrier to companies needing access to big data analytics capabilities through its acquisition of cloud orchestration software firm Cycle Computing.

The company’s technology is geared towards helping organisations use the public cloud to carry out large, compute-intensive tasks by taking care of data management and orchestration side of the equation, and is already verified for use with Microsoft Azure, as well as Amazon and Google clouds.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Cycle Computing claims its technology will be used to manage around one billion core hours this year, and that its customer base spends around $50-100m each year on cloud infrastructure capacity.  

Its customer list reportedly includes government agencies, pharmaceutical firms, companies operating in the media and entertainment space, and members of the life sciences community.

In a blog post announcing the acquisition, Jason Zander, corporate vice-president of Microsoft Azure, said marrying up Cycle Computing with Azure will make it easier for users to draw on the cloud to carry out high performance computing (HPC) and big data-related tasks.

“The cloud is quickly changing the world of big compute, giving customers the on-demand power and infrastructure necessary to run massive workloads at scale without the overhead. Your compute power is no longer measured or limited by the square footage of your datacentre,” he said.

“Cycle Computing will help customers accelerate their movement to the cloud, and make it easy to take advantage of the most performant and compliant infrastructure available in the public cloud today.”

Jason Stowe, CEO of Cycle Computing, said joining forces with Microsoft will open up a raft of business opportunities for the firm, and pave the way for it to enter new markets.

“[Microsoft’s] global cloud footprint and unique hybrid offering is built with enterprises in mind, and its big compute/HPC team has already delivered pivotal technologies such as InfiniBand and next generation GPUs,” said Stowe, in a separate blog post.

“The Cycle team can’t wait to combine CycleCloud’s technology for managing Linux and Windows compute and data workloads, with Microsoft Azure’s Big Compute infrastructure roadmap and global market reach.”

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Georgina O’Toole, chief analyst at IT analyst house TechMarketView, said the acquisition will allow Microsoft to tap into the growing demand for HPC capabilities from organisations that have previously shied away from attempting such compute-hungry tasks.

“We have seen several examples whereby larger suppliers are buying up ‘clever’ startups to build out their capabilities in getting enterprises into the cloud faster and enabling cloud at scale,” said O’Toole, in a research note to subscriber to TechMarketView’s UKHotViews service. “Getting to know a potential buyer through a partnership means a startup is more likely to agree to be acquired via a trade sale.”

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