Factors to Understand to Maximize Cloud HPC Investments for Your Organization

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Most organizations today run some, or even all, of their IT operations in the public cloud. Over the past several years, even cloud HPC has seen significant growth.

HPC workloads place considerable demands on compute hardware and IT infrastructures, which is why most organizations have traditionally kept HPC applications on-premises in their local data centers. Several cloud providers now offer specific HPC services and capabilities, but you’ll need to understand and address several factors before running HPC applications in the public cloud instead of locally in your own data center.

Pros of Cloud HPC

  • No need to house and maintain hardware – Hardware investments to support HPC workloads can be significant. With cloud, you’re able to greatly reduce your expenditures for that hardware.
  • Avoid over- or under-utilization of hardware – With the cloud, you’re better able to adapt hardware resources to the individual HPC jobs you plan on running. This flexibility keeps you from having to adjust your in-house hardware investments, or risk having too much or too little hardware for your HPC workloads.
  • Gain access to latest, specialized hardware and software – Cloud providers often offer cutting-edge hardware and software, allowing organizations to stay current, and even test new technologies for themselves.
  • Simplify your costs – While cloud services are not inexpensive, the costs are consistent and predictable. There are no unforeseen costs when new hardware is needed, or potentially wasted money for under-utilized hardware investments.

Cons of Cloud HPC

  • Ensuring performance meets your needs – You’ll need to ensure your cloud service provider uses the latest servers, processors, network hardware, and storage solutions to meet your HPC workload requirements. Your workloads need to perform similarly to on-premises resources, otherwise your investment suffers. But pooling cloud compute nodes to match on-premises performance can become expensive, and it’s an expense you’ll need to understand before you take the plunge into cloud HPC.
  • Securing your data – Ensuring the vast amounts of your proprietary data are secure in the cloud is always a concern. Most users feel more strongly about the security measures they employ on their on-premises systems, so it’s crucial to work with a cloud provider that can prove they use security measures up to your standards.
  • Data download costs – There are costs involved with downloading and retrieving your data from the cloud, including both monetary fees, and time expenses with how long retrieval will take.
  • Hidden costs – It’s critical to ensure you know up front all the fees the cloud service provider attaches to their services. You can’t afford to be caught off-guard by new, hidden fees once you’ve invested and are already trying to achieve results from your investment.

The Benefit of Hybrid Cloud HPC

As with many initiatives involving the cloud, a hybrid approach can often be ideal. Hybrid cloud HPC is a combination of on-premises HPC and cloud HPC. This approach combines your on-premises resources with cloud operations, providing you a higher level of flexibility than if you chose one strategy over the other.

This option also allows you the ability to focus your internal teams on different strategies. For instance, your development team can focus their workloads on cloud HPC, while your system engineers can work exclusively with on-premises resources. This allows an even and simplified division of work, and a more straightforward understanding of the efficiency of your investments in each.

Choosing Your Partners

To gain the most efficient, cost-effective solution to your HPC needs, both in the cloud and on-premises, it’s imperative to choose your technology partners wisely. Look for a cloud services provider with HPC experience who offers cutting-edge technologies capable of handling your high-performance workloads. And ensure that their pricing structure is transparent with no hidden surprises.

When choosing a technology partner for any on-premises investments, finding one with experience and expertise is a must. Silicon Mechanics is one of the world’s largest private providers of HPC and AI solutions. For more than 20 years, we’ve provided custom-tailored open-source systems and professional services expertise to overcome the world’s most complex computing challenges. Learn more about Silicon Mechanics’ HPC solutions at www.siliconmechanics.com/clusters.