SoftIron agrees to provide storage for NCI’s multi-modal supercomputing system

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Credit: NCI

SoftIron, a provider of task-specific data infrastructure appliances, has announced its selection by National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) Australia, to provide Ceph-based object storage for its integrated computational environment. 

The new storage system will support Australia’s leading researchers through the provision of High-Performance Computing (HPC), Cloud Computing and Data services for a number of high-profile projects for the center, including operational data products.

Andrew Howard, associate director – loud Services at NCI Australia states: ‘NCI is supporting Australian researchers across many disciplines with disparate needs, from High-Performance Computing, High-Performance Data, and High Throughput Computing – all of which have their own set of critical demands that must be addressed across a range of disciplines.’

The NCI system will operate using four classes of storage platforms across the facility, consisting of; (1) a HPC storage platform, (2) a facility-wide high-performance persistent storage platform, (3) a cloud-focused object store, and (4) a large-scale hierarchical storage management (HSM) based archival storage system. The system will leverage the use of open-source Ceph through SoftIron’s HyperDrive storage appliances, initially providing 12.5 Petabytes of object storage for an Openstack cloud framework and the active project data for the various projects using the system.

‘In building a “Supercomputing for All”’ approach, we’ve been able to revisit many past assumptions about what, where, and how we deploy, manage and support our data infrastructure,’ said Howard. ‘Ubiquitous access to that infrastructure implies exponential growth in the underlying storage demands that will be required to underpin this. Ultimately we chose to leverage the open source route for all the benefits that using an open source-based system conveys to a technology organisation. We chose Ceph, specifically, for its maturity and robust capability as a unified, distributed storage system for emerging and non-traditional HPC capabilities. This offers unprecedented flexibility in its ability to offer object, block and file storage protocols in a single storage cluster, with the ability to scale virtually infinitely, as demands arise. SoftIron became the natural choice after an examination of their Ceph-based HyperDrive appliances, which provide a robust array of benefits through their task-specific engineering.’

SoftIron’s ‘task-specific’ design approach aims to maximise performance and efficiency, providing powerful, flexible, and durable appliances in a highly efficient form factor that improve efficiencies and reduce costs by eliminating waste at the hardware level. 

Phil Straw, CEO of SoftIron comments: ‘As computing needs increasingly reach into the multi-petabyte realms, the economics of data will require that organisations seek ways to liberate themselves from proprietary data infrastructures which become increasingly expensive to extricate themselves from. SoftIron has put the system architects and their organisations back at the centre of control, enabling them to ‘have their cake and eat it too’ by providing them with the performance and flexibility they need, without the vendor lock, or the scaling waste and the relative costs of proprietary solutions. We are proud to see organisations like NCI Australia pioneering systems that increasingly leverage open source solutions as the path forward. Installations like this are benchmarks for how systems will be architected to deliver value across wide ranges of use.’

SoftIron and NCI Speaking at SupercomputingAsia 2022

SoftIron and NCI will be jointly presenting at SupercomputingAsia (SCA) next month. Titled, ‘The Critical Role Open Source Storage will Play in Advancing a Vision of Supercomputing for All’, this presentation will focus on the challenges that organisations face as they work to provide ubiquitous access to multi-modal supercomputing servicing diverse research teams, and the role that open source technologies will have as computing evolves to meet the demands of scale and the evolution towards Edge Computing. 

The talk will outline how SoftIron and NCI have collaborated to address these challenges in the high performance supercomputing environment, delivering a Ceph-based storage capability to underpin NCI’s ‘Supercomputing for All’ vision. 

The presentation will take place in person at the Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre. The talk will take place on Thursday, March 3rd at 2:45pm Singapore Standard Time (GMT+8).

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23 June 2022