Open Source or Enterprise-grade Containers? How SingularityPRO Adds Value for Mission-critical HPC Workloads

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In virtually every organization employing HPC, including across the oil and gas, finance, pharmaceuticals, and chip design industries, containers are a hot topic for their ability to reduce overhead, improve efficiency, and increase density. Not only are containers lightweight and fast to provision, but solutions like the open-source SingularityCE container platform also enable hassle-free application portability, whether they run on a developer’s workstation, local servers, or any cloud environment.

When it comes to features and support, however, organizations running AI, data science, and compute-driven analytics applications often have deeper needs for ensuring optimal performance from and security of mission-critical workloads running in containers. Sylabs developed SingularityPRO and Singularity Enterprise to deliver an array of important features and capabilities, along with enterprise-grade support, for organizations that need more stability, security, and support. 

Building on a proven solution

SingularityCE is a widely popular option for deploying containers and running batch-style jobs for a few key reasons, including:

  • Provides the de facto standard container image format for HPC (Sylabs specifically designed the Singularity Image Format (SIF), the default Singularity container image, to encapsulate reproducible application stacks into a single file)
  • Does not require a root-owned daemon process running on a node
  • Runs containers without requiring escalation to root
  • May use a different Linux operating system version than whatever is running on the bare metal cluster nodes
  • Offers Software Bill of Materials (SBOM) support based on requirements outlined in the White House’s Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity

Sylabs’ supported option, SingularityPRO, builds on the success of SingularityCE, leveraging the open-source code base to provide the container runtime and image format (SIF) with enterprise-grade enhancements to offer better security, stability, and customization, including:

  • Support from lead Sylabs developers
  • Easy deployment and upgrades through the backporting of security and bug fixes and packaged binaries
  • Additional functionality via plugins
  • Direct access to feature and development roadmaps

Sylabs also curates and supports SingularityPRO code with clearly defined lifecycles, so users are not subject to rolling code changes from the open-source community.

Simplifying workflows and deployment challenges

SingularityPRO offers commercial support and access to a growing value-added container ecosystem that includes Singularity Enterprise, a set of three services to support Singularity container workflows. Singularity Enterprise includes a Remote Builder to build containers of varying architectures, a Container Library (registry) to store and share containers, and a Keystore for container signing and authentication. It makes containerization easy and is available to deploy as an on-premise or virtual private cloud service offering.

Organizations that run SingularityPRO and Singularity Enterprise on HPC platforms can more easily build, share, and secure performance-intensive applications using value-added services and an easily repeatable method. For example, Singularity provides an ideal solution for maintaining flexibility in multi-tenant clusters because its unique security model ensures that untrusted users can run untrusted containers without impacting the security of the underlying host system. It also supports mobility of compute for diverse and demanding enterprise workloads by simplifying deployment of applications across different devices and clusters without the need to re-host the applications for each distinct environment or a virtualized hardware layer. Since Singularity containers are just single files, deploying a container is as simple as moving the file from one host to another. 

Learn more

Containers are invaluable for their ability to seamlessly move applications between environments from development to QA to 100k+ node clusters. SingularityPRO and Singularity Enterprise provide peace of mind for organizations running mission-critical workloads. For a deeper discussion of the value-added capabilities of SingularityPro and Singularity Enterprise compared to those of SingularityCE, read the complimentary white paper: SingularityPRO and Singularity Enterprise on HPC Infrastructure