Interview: Wolfgang Gentzsch on the Changing Landscape at ISC Cloud’12

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With ISC’12 behind us, the busy Fall season for HPC conference is coming up quickly. One of the growing events in this space is ISC Cloud’12. To learn more, I caught up with Conference Chair Wolfgang Gentzsch.

InsideHPC: What will be the focus topics for ISC Cloud’12 as the conference enters its third year?

Wolfgang Gentzsch: The focus of the conference is on the use of Clouds for High Performance and Technical Computing and Big Data, for engineering design and development, and for scientific discovery. This will include talks about the end-to-end solution processes and on the challenges we face, and how to overcome them.

InsideHPC: You wrote recently that ever-increasing complexity in high performance computing is driving the need for HPC in the Cloud. Isn’t that just moving the problem rather than solving it?

Wolfgang Gentzsch: I see indeed two large and different camps in our community: the one which is using HPC today, on HPC clusters, big and small, doing complex application simulations on a routine basis; and the other, much larger of technical computing users who mostly apply workstations to their R&D problems. Both groups are facing ever increasing complexity, because of the need for higher quality solutions and more complex geometries and physics, but while the first group is moving towards peta- and exascale, the workstation users are stuck with the bottleneck limitations a workstation has, concerning problem size and run time, for example. The two ways to go I can see for them are buying their own HPC cluster or bursting into an HPC Cloud. And at the ISC Cloud Conference we will discuss the benefits and drawbacks of both these approaches.

InsideHPC: Even though Cloud grew out of the Grid, the HPC community has been much slower than the enterprise to adopt cloud as a delivery model. What do you think are the main things impeding Cloud HPC today?

Wolfgang Gentzsch: Enterprise web services based applications are easily moved to the Cloud; you just move them once, and then they stay there forever; what moves back and forth are just a few Bytes: the customers’ services requests and the services themselves. What the HPC community has to move back and forth are the big engineering and science applications, the terabytes of data, and often enough a company’s IP crown jewels, every time they have just one service request; what a huge difference, technically, mentally, politically, and legally.

InsideHPC: The HPC community seems to be kind of a “show me” crowd. Will ISCCloud’12 talks be more from speakers’ real end-user hands-on experiences?

Wolfgang Gentzsch: Very much so, because there are still many hurdles to overcome before you enter HPC Paradise. Therefore, we followed the recommendations of our participants from last year and invited senior expert speakers with real end-user, hands-on experiences reporting on actual scenarios and solutions, often with a pragmatic approach.

InsideHPC: The conference location in Mannheim is bit of a homecoming for ISC. What can attendees look forward to when they come to visit in September? Will Oktoberfest be going on?

Wolfgang Gentzsch: The ISC Cloud conference today is what ISC was 20 years ago: friends and family of decision makers in research and industry, meeting in Mannheim, early adopters in their field, in a vibrant and friendly atmosphere. And the good news for our friends from abroad is that Oktoberfest starts the weekend right before our conference, with the parade of the tent patrons through Munich and the tapping of the first beer barrel, then stops for two days because of our conference, and then continues until October 7!


  1. Rich & Wolfgang,

    I like your fine interview. Wolfgang has outlined very clearly why our ISC Cloud’12 event will be attractive for those who need guidance in their forthcoming important decisions with respect to HPC in the Cloud or not in the Cloud.

    Thank you both,