InsideTrack: Nimbis Services

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I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Robert Graybill, CEO of Nimbis Services. Those of you closely following the HPC news know that Nimbis recently announced a partnership with the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) to broker computational cycles and services. Before you immediately discount Nimbis as just another cycle house, I suggest you read on.

Nimbis was founded by Robert Graybill and Brian Schott. Those in HPC management might remember Robert from his days at DARPA and the US Council on Competitivenes. He spent the previous few years doing studies on the efficacy and utilization of computational resources around the US. He quickly learned that there is a significant gap in what Nimbis terms Digital Analysis Computing (DAC). DAC is essentially a broader term for high performance computing. Any problem requiring computational and storage resources larger than a desktop, is DAC.

Enter Nimbis, stage right. Nimbis has a created an environment and infrastructure in order to provide access to all aspects of Digital Access Computing resources. They’re essentially a clearing house for compute, storage, software (licensing) and consulting resources. Nimbis will provide access to anything from cycles on a cluster, to ad-hoc access to commercial software, to warm-body consulting resources in the form of domain experts. They’re targeting users that don’t typically require access to resources 365 days a year. One may need cycles for a specific project, customer or academic study. In these instances, the initial purchase and maintenance of HPC resources is simply not cost effective.

Business ventures such as this would typically require a huge capital investment for compute, storage and software. Not at Nimbis. Rather than hosting everything locally, Nimbis has ascertained partnerships with the likes of IBM, Amazon Web Services, R-Systems, OSC and Wolfram Research (and the list is growing). This allows Nimbis to remain agile and agnostic to the compute architecture and software payload for which they provide access.

So, how exactly does one get access to these resources? Nimbis has architected a mixture of custom developed software and currently available software packages in order to provide a more fluid user experience. According to Graybill, they will “rely heavily on virtual machine technology.” Nimbis is currently soliciting beta customers in anticipation of a production release in early 2009. For those who would like to see more, Nimbis will be holding demos at SC08 in Austin.

If you would like to read more about Nimbis Services or signup as a beta customer, head over to their website here.


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