Lighting the Way to Commerical Scale HPC

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ds_logo_smallHave you ever sat back to bask in the engineering breakthroughs associated with a baby’s diaper? Have you ever counted the number of PhD’s behind the farm equipment harvesting the potatoes on your plate?

The amount of computational horsepower required to design and manufacture items found in our daily lives is flabbergasting. However, why has there existed such a disconnect between computing in the nationally recognized laboratories and in commercial enterprise? The network shall be your guide.

A little-known organization recently noticed this troubling situation arising in commercial America. Commercial organizations will always have an immediate need to accelerate their time-to-market cycles. National laboratories will always have the ability to procure and operate next-generation computational platforms. Until recently, the two lacked an efficient way of collaborating with one another. Enter Darkstrand.

In an odd twist of fate, the founders of Darkstrand stumbled upon a once in a lifetime business opportunity. A customer approached the group with the problem of moving large amounts of data across the country. Darkstrand’s job was to procure and operate private, long-haul optical networks in order to satisfy this commercial organization’s need for data access. However, negotiations with multiple telecommunications partners is often likened to a United Nations debate. Using previously formed relationships with the research teams at Argonne National Lab, Darkstrand was able to purchase one half of the network capacity of the National Lambda Rail optical network.

Fast forward to June of 2009. Darkstrand has spent the last year refining their operational capabilities, upgrading NLR infrastructure, building laboratory partnerships and stirring up interest in commercial America. What has resulted is an organization poised to provide guaranteed 40 Gbps commercial network access to any of 187 endpoints on the NLR backed by a world-class, 24×7 enterprise network operations center. They key ingredient in this network soup is Darkstrand’s ability to provide project management services between commercial entities and research organizations. “There has to be a process that makes those projects work. There must be a human network as much as the data network,” Mike Stein, CEO of Darkstrand.

Darkstrand currently has solidified partnerships with the Ohio Supercomputer Center, the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, UC San Diego’s Calit2, the University of Illinois Chicago’s Electronic Visualization Lab and the New Mexico Computing Applications Center. They’ve even begun to have conversations with commercial HPC providers such as R-Systems and the Nimbis Services computing clearinghouse. Their customer base already includes several engineering heavyweights. They’re continuing their data packet expanse by reaching out into rich media, bio sciences and financial services. All industries that rely on real time, high bandwidth data access.

Darkstrand is already planning for what the next generation of optical networking at 100 Gbps will bring to their industrial/research lab parternships. vision of the future already contains circuits bursting at 100Gbps. CEO Mike Stein has a vision of a future corporate landscape laden with incentives based on technological investments rather than brick and mortar land-use. This “digital company that could” is poised to provide the basis for the next generation of engineering collaboration and innovation.


  1. […] regarding a complete overhaul of our current broadband infrastructure and the hefty list of sealed partners/participants, they could very well be on their way to serious national stardom.AKPC_IDS += […]