Tech focus: Cloud

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Robert Roe takes a look at the cloud technologies available to researchers using HPC

Cloud technologies are now reaching a level of maturity that is making them appealing to HPC users. Whether using public or hybrid cloud, these technologies offer unprecedented flexibility for users who can create or ‘spin-up’ nodes with specific architectural requirements, use cloud bursting to increase the capacity of their inhouse infrastructure – or it can increase the agility of a company that shares data over multiple sites. 

In previous years there have been some concerns around security or the cost of moving data to and from the cloud, but these reservations are slowly being eroded as more users see value in developing a cloud infrastructure as part of their HPC resource. 

One aspect of designing and procuring HPC systems in the past was the need to create a balanced architecture. This means looking at the kind of applications that will be run on a particular cluster to try and match the requirements of applications with the technologies that are needed. For example, some workloads require large memory nodes, high-speed storage or interconnects or high performance storage. 

In a perfect world, all of these technologies could be included in a single system but, in reality, this is not feasible for most HPC centres as the cost of such a system would increase drastically. Cloud HPC allows people setting up this infrastructure to make more efficient decisions, particularly if they are cloud bursting or developing a hybrid cloud strategy – as they can build their in-house resources to cater for around 80 per cent of the user requirements while using the cloud to provide GPUs or specific node architectures that suit a small number of users. 

This allows all applications to benefit from this balanced architectural approach, while still being able to cater to the specialised applications that have more niche requirements. 

Other products

Based on Alibaba Cloud infrastructure, Alibaba Cloud Elastic High Performance Computing (E-HPC) is an end-to-end public cloud service. E-HPC provides individual users, education and research institutions, and public institutions with a fast, elastic, and secure cloud compute platform that interconnects with Alibaba Cloud products.

Arista Networks is a provider of cognitive cloud networking solutions for large data center and campus environments. Arista’s award winning platforms, ranging in Ethernet speeds from 10 to 400 gigabits per second, deliver availability, agility, automation analytics, and security through CloudVision and Arista EOS, an advanced network operating system.

AtNorth is a provider of Nordic data center services company offering environmentally responsible, power-efficient, costoptimised data center hosting facilities and highperformance computing services. AtNorth offers sustainable, and extremely scalable HPC resources fully delivered as-a-service enabling our customers to focus on their simulation applications and calculations without having to worry about the underlying HPC infrastructure. 

AWS provides the most elastic and scalable cloud infrastructure to run your HPC applications. With virtually unlimited capacity, engineers, researchers, and HPC system owners can innovate beyond the limitations of on-premises HPC infrastructure. AWS delivers an integrated suite of services that provides everything needed to quickly and easily build and manage HPC clusters in the cloud to run the most compute intensive workloads across various industry verticals. 

Cirrascale Cloud Services is a premier cloud services provider of deep learning infrastructure solutions for autonomous vehicle, medical imaging, and natural language processing (NLP), and other deep learning workflows. The company was designed to focus on helping clients choose the right platform and performance criteria for their cloud services needs. 

LMX Cloud from Define Tech is a comprehensive Cloud HPC cluster management stack that supports a broad range of workloads and software environments, enabling organisations with an agile and scalable IT infrastructure. One of its many key features that speaks to HPC users in particular is the ability to ‘compose’ or dynamically configure their HPC resource when demand dictates. With LMX Cloud, HPC users and IT admins can auto-provision resources from pools of compute, GPU, FPGA, NVMe and storage-class memory in seconds and scale up or out as needed – all from a single, easy to use management interface, and this composable HPC feature is also compatible with job schedulers so can be automated. High performance computing (HPC) is all about scale and speed. 

Google Cloud’s flexible and scalable offerings help accelerate time to completion, so you can convert ideas into discoveries and inspirations into products. Each team can access their own scalable, tailor-made cluster to reduce queue times for large-batch workloads and relieve compute resource limitations. Access custom machine configurations to control costs with committed and sustained use discounts

The Grey Matter Connected Cloud is a comprehensive pathway to ensure you connect to the cloud with confidence. Their specialist Cloud Solutions Team can help you build a cloud strategy and work with you to transform your business with the right licensing and cloud configuration, mobile devices for business, end-to-end cloud migration services, and post-deployment training and support.

Gompute provides a flexible HPC platform for CAE workflows and simulations. Gompute provides compute node capacity delivered in the service are baremetal, equipped with a high-speed,low-latency interconnect and large memory options. Private Cloud Access dedicated hardware to outsource ‘steady’ capacity or burst individual projects. With a private cloud from Gompute you can get a tailored solution for short or long terms.

H66cloud from Hydro66 provides a mature enterprisegrade cloud environment, Instant Launch, high performance with GPU options and zero maintenance. The company says there is no single point-of-failure, 100 per cent guaranteed uptime, no upfront costs, and the opportunity to cancel at any time. The customer controls whether to pay in five-minute increments and only for what they run, or longer commits for known workloads. Real time technical support around the clock is available when you need a helping hand. The company says: ‘A next-generation cloud should be available to all, easy to use, the best price performance and most important, kind to the planet.

The Azure HPC OnDemand Platform or azhop, delivers an end-2-end deployment mechanism for a complete HPC cluster solution in Azure. Industry standard tools like Terraform, Ansible and Packer are used to provision and configure this environment. Each environment contains an OpenOn Demand Portal for a unified user access, remote shell access, remote visualisation access, job submission, file access and more, an active directory for user authentication and domain control, a PBS Job Scheduler and Azure Cycle Cloud to handle autoscaling of PBS Nodes thru PBS integration. Nimbix offers cloud and on premises HPC giving engineers and scientists access to infrastructure and software needed to build, compute, analyse, scale, and deploy simulation and AI/ML/ DL applications. Faster, more powerful, less expensive cloud computing. From engineering to life sciences, to oil and gas, Nimbix says it understands the unique challenges of compute-intensive environments.

Penguin Computing’s Cloud Technology practice is focused on delivering software-defined architectures that enable you to run your workloads regardless of where your compute or data resources reside. The company suggests these platforms deliver the advances of a Cloud 2.0 world where workloads are delivered on simultaneously addressable resources. Its goal is to enable you to run workloads everywhere as a seamless user experience by removing the complexities of workload portability, inclusive workflows, data locality, and remote visualisation.

Open hybrid cloud is ’s recommended strategy for architecting, developing, and operating a hybrid mix of applications, delivering a truly flexible cloud experience with the speed, stability, and scale required for digital business transformation. The flexibility to run your applications across environments – from bare metal to virtual machines (VMs), edge computing, private cloud, and public clouds – without having to rebuild applications, retrain people, or maintain disparate environments is the outcome of implementing an open hybrid cloud strategy.

ScaleCloud Enterprise from Scalematrix is designed to address the common tradeoffs in cloud environments for compute-intensive workloads. The product features top-ofthe-line Intel processors and HPE servers housed in cabinet technology, the company says. UberCloud - Cloud Simulation Platform for Engineers: UberCloud helps engineers run their simulation tools with high performance and reliability in the cloud. The company says its self-service software platform lets you create scalable cloud clusters all while using the native GUI of Ansys, COMSOL, CST, NUMECA, and more. There is no loss of features with simplistic web portals that only support batch use cases.