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Interview: Sugon Looks to Grow New HPC Markets in the West

Sugon is one of the top HPC vendors in China. With plans to expand operations in the West, the company is once again sponsoring the ISC 2016 conference. To learn more, we caught up with Dr Qing Ji, Deputy General Manager of HPC Division at Sugon.

insideHPC: What are Sugon’s key strengths in the HPC Market?

Dr Qing Ji, Sugon

Dr Qing Ji, Sugon

Dr Qing Ji: Sugon, used to be called Dawning, rooted from the Institute of Computing Technology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ICT), and was the first (and now largest) HPC local vendor in China. Since 1990, Sugon has been working on High Performance Computing, producing seven generations of HPC systems, such as Dawning I and Dawning 1000 to 6000. We have successfully supported more than 10,000 HPC projects. In 2014, Sugon was successfully listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange (Stock code: 603019). We have continuously dominated the China HPC Top100 for the past 7 years and hit the 3rd of Top500 (Nov, 2015) per vendor market share.

Sugon’s key strengths lie in several aspects. First, technology accumulation and innovation are the top priority for Sugon. Besides ICT’s full technology support, Sugon has R&D teams (~50% in all employment) working on the current solutions improvement and next generation products design and development. More importantly, we have a unique team working on the testing and cooperation using the most advanced technologies of computing, storage, network technology etc. with many acknowledged partners. Second, as the first local HPC vendor, Sugon has witnessed, participated, and even influenced the development of China’s HPC community in areas such as the debate of HPC technology localization and general compatibility. Third, as the largest local HPC vendor, Sugon’s HPC solutions have the largest customer base. Our solutions reflect the demands of China market, and also embody the change of China market. Such a long-time and high-level market share definitely demonstrates the quality and efficiency of our solutions.

insideHPC: We recently learned of Sugon’s ambitions to expand its HPC market to Europe and the USA. What are the key challenges for your company to be successful in new geographies?

Dr Qing Ji: Accompanied by the China government stimulus policy and also the stock market requirements, Sugon just kicked-off our internationalization steps. We believe that the quality of our solutions bring us leading competitiveness for this internationalization. Similar to many other expanding companies, Sugon does have many advantages on brand, success stories, language, culture, local branch, etc. The No.1 hurdle we need to clear is, of course, the brand. That is why, we cherish each opportunity to get better exposure to the international HPC community.

insideHPC: Sugon has been involved in planning the layout of China’s national cloud computing Blue Map. Can you describe Sugon’s progress in Cloud Computing?

Dr Qing Ji: Cloud Computing is an important strategy for Sugon. Last year at Sugon’s innovation conference, we put forward the 100-city-100-business program for the cloud computing business. To date, we already have 10+ Cloud Computing Centers in China, including Wuxi Urban Cloud Computing Center, Chengdu Cloud Computing Center, Baotou Cloud Computing Center et al. Sugon has become a top leader in cloud service in China, and first provided applications for enterprise in Sugon cloud store. We have the cloud solutions from frameworks, facility, operating systems, storage, to security and solutions. More recently, we launched the Gridview 4.0 and EasyOP for industry HPC Cloud and online system administration (SAAS), respectively. Last October, we had a joint venture with VMware to provide better virtualization service for Sugon’s cloud.

imagesHere are some cases:

  • The Wuxi Cloud Computing Center. In 2010, the “China Internet of Things Cloud Computing Center” invested by Sugon was formally established in Wuxi National Software Park. The center is mainly focused on regional IT infrastructures and state-level high-tech service industrial demonstration bases. It serves for the Wuxi City Cloud and local enterprises as well. As for the city cloud, we have moved the city facility monitoring, city parking, traffic control, and real estate into cloud. Till Dec. 2015, the center has 50+ patents. It has been awarded as one of the five city cloud experimental unit national wide.
  • The Shenzhen Cloud Computing Center. This center completed acceptance testing on January 3, 2012. The center is home to the Nebulae supercomputer, built by Dawning (now Sugon). The center will support the previously under-served southern parts of China with potential workloads including: weather forecasting, telecommunications, automotive, and batteries.
  • Chengdu Cloud Computing Center. This was China’s first major commercially-operated Cloud Computing Center, launched on December 28, 2009. Built by Chengdu Supercomputer Center Co. and powered by the Dawning 5000 supercomputer, the center serves governmental applications and scientific computing for the Western part of China. The Goal of the center is to become the world’s largest cloud service and terminal product manufacturing base.

insideHPC: Why is the ISC High Performance conference in Europe a priority for Sugon?

Dr Qing Ji: As mentioned above, we cherish each opportunity to get better exposure to the international HPC community.The ISC Group as maintained unparalleled standards of quality and has a keen eye for detail in overseeing complex events and software products for more than 30 years. There is no doubt, that ISC is one of the most important summit for international HPC community. In last July, ISC15 has 2800+ and 150+ attendees. ISC has a whole side conference taking place in the surrounding hotels, as vendors run non-stop briefings for key customers, and the heads of supercomputer centers assess the market. ISC is also a friendly event because of its smaller size and located in Europe. Certainly the potential for ad hoc networking is very good. Therefore, we take ISC as a prior platform for Sugon’s international brand construction and networking.

insideHPC: In the United States, one of the primary challenges facing the HPC community is a shortage of young people with parallel programming skills. Is this a problem for Chinese firms like Sugon as well?

Dr Qing Ji: Actually, there are much more people work for parallel programming compare to that of ten years ago in China. But, we still are lacking new blood. The situation might be a bit optimistic in Sugon due to the relatively steady human resource inputs from CAS. On the other hand, Sugon has paid much effort to motivate young people towards HPC. For example, we have Postdoctoral Program, United Lab, HPC Online Forum, Wechat Broadcast, and Onsite Experiencing along with routine training & certification.

Sugon will showcase its HPC solutions at ISC 2016, which takes place June 19-23 in Frankfurt, Germany.

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