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Hyperion report highlights costs of HPC storage

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A research report from Hyperion Research, commissioned by Panasas, has found that that total cost of ownership (TCO) is rising as a top criterion for purchasing high-performance computing (HPC) storage systems. A better understanding of total system TCO could help HPC centres to support scientists and researchers by using the available computing and storage resources more efficiently.

While performance still ranked first (57 per cent), TCO tied with purchase price at 37 per cent as the second most important consideration cited by users. ‘A clear implication of this study is that to compete effectively, storage vendors need to deliver value far beyond the initial purchase price,’ said Steve Conway, senior advisor, HPC market dynamics at Hyperion Research. ‘They must pay attention to the full range of buyer considerations, including reliability, cost of management, responsive support and uninterrupted application user productivity.’

This points to a growing shift as HPC users begin to more carefully scrutinise the ongoing operating costs of a system. Downtime is an important consideration because prolonged periods of systems downtime can cost millions of dollars in lost productivity or research output.

Almost half of the surveyed respondents experience storage system failures once a month or more, with some outages leading to downtimes that can last as long as a week. The report surveyed datacentre planners and managers, storage system managers, purchasing decision-makers and key influencers, as well as users of HPC storage systems. Hyperion surveyed organisations with annual revenues from less than $5 million (USD) to more than $10 billion (USD).

‘HPC storage buyers have come to expect downtime as the norm in HPC storage, trading off the lowest cost of acquisition for the inevitable headaches and lost productivity caused by system downtime,’ said Faye Pairman, president and CEO at Panasas. ‘As a result, HPC storage vendors skimp on the development expenses associated with reliability, manageability and support; something we don’t do at Panasas. With the release of PanFS 8, we go beyond delivering the lowest cost of ownership that we are known for by offering our high-performance file system on commodity hardware to provide the lowest cost of acquisition as well – making the buying decision easy.’

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