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An Apps Store for HPC?

Over at Computerworld, Patrick Thibodeau writes that easily available and affordable “Apps” are coming to HPC. In the mobile space Apps tend to be simple packages that do one thing very well. For HPC, an App would work the same way on a specific task, such as modeling and simulating the flow of a fluid through a pipe.

I think this can be the disruption to what’s been a pretty stagnant software world for the last decade,” said Tom Lange, Proctor & Gamble’s director of modeling and simulation, of the potential of apps. Lange believes that apps can help “democratize” HPC and make simulation analysis “an everyday part of decision-making.”

How would this work? Such an App model is already in place at NSF’s NanoHub.org, where researchers can get access to more than 250 codes. Read the Full Story.

Comments

  1. nanohub.org is very impressive indeed!

    I’m not quite convinced though that it’s as simple as setting up an ‘app store’.

    For HPC, you typically need quite a bit of support to allow scientists to run their stuff, it’s just too complex to do it all by themselves.

    The cloud approach of nanoHUB sure is interesting, but I feel there will always be a need for local/national centers where people can hop by if they’re having problems with running their software, getting the best perfornance, scaling up, etc.

    Anyone who is looking into setting up an ‘app store’ similar to nanoHUB should be aware of EasyBuild (see http://hpcugent.github.com/easybuild), a community effort to resolve the pain in building and installing scientific software.

    Building scientific software is often a pain because the nowhere-near-to-standard build procedures. Similarly, commercial software often involves custom build procedures as well, sometimes even interactive installers which are a true nightmare for sysadmins who want to automate software installations and spend their time on the interesting stuff.

    EasyBuild tries to solve this by offering a framework to implement (scientific) software build procedures once, and share them with the HPC community, which is a *huge* time saver in the end.

    (disclaimer: I’m a co-developer of EasyBuild)

  2. There’s the financial and business model side of app stores to consider as well. Organisations typically aren’t going to allow their engineers to run several thousand dollars through on the credit card and just expense it. That’s still the realm of the corporate sale with a blessing (or the absence of a curse) from IT. I’m not saying it won’t work, but it might put a cap on the level of capability you can buy through the app store, because there will be a cap on the price.

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