High performance computing on SoftLayer

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“It’s alive!” I think most of us have seen the movie Young Frankenstein, where Gene Wilder exclaims this over his creation. The simple act of breathing is a key capability that enables us to live and adapt to our environment. When we need more air, we breathe harder. When we are sleeping, we breath slower.

High performance computingThat ability to adapt has been an goal of computing for years and has moved into the cloud ecosystem lately. It is now coming to fruition for enterprise scale. IBM has just announced the IBM Platform Computing Cloud Service on SoftLayer. This marries the best of dynamic high performance computing capabilities of IBM Platform Computing software with the infrastructure as a service (IaaS) capabilities of SoftLayer.

“So what?” you say. Let’s look at this by role.

For the mad scientist

What does this mean to you?

• Already running an IBM high performance computing (HPC) cluster in your organization? Now you can burst out to the cloud to add more capacity to work through more complicated problems without dealing with the investment related to servers. This is used by RedBull Racing as presented at IBM Pulse 2014.

• You don’t have an HPC cluster but want to apply these capabilities to your business? Now you can do this on the cloud in SoftLayer.

• Got a complex big data analytics need? Now you can leverage the high performance computing capability to spin up MapReduce clusters to solve support your analytical needs.

One key point here is that these types of applications tend to be designed to solve a specific problem. You know, the grid computing type of stuff, which is cool if you’re trying to crack the mysteries of the Higgs Boson particle. What if you’re just trying to scale a web application?

For the rest of us

You know, application architects who are building applications based on typical multi-tier patterns for retailers, banks, and more. Or what if you’re simply building an app with an application programming interface (API)?

There are several ways these types of apps can breathe on SoftLayer today:

• Applications can be set to autoscale using the RightScale SaaS.

• You could follow Netflix’s lead and leverage their OSS tooling. IBM has worked to marry the best of SoftLayer and Netflix tools with the know-how of IBM to create another instance of a cloud that breathes.

• You could use clustering and scaling capabilities available in most application servers.

What’s the bottom line?

Know your lab and your monster

Creating a living breathing creature is not easy, whether you’re a mad scientist or just a plain old developer. The devil is in the details. High performance computing, dynamic scaling and autoscaling all can mean different things to different people.

Three things to consider

• What is your application architecture? Is it an HPC/Grid computing style application? Is it a multi-tier application that manages state? Both scale differently.

• Are you all in the cloud or looking to burst from an existing data center? Are you looking to have an app that breathes only in the cloud, or between your data center and the cloud?

• How dynamically do you need your cloud to breathe? Keep it simple where possible. Yes, it is cool to have an application that can scale immediately based on traffic. However, you should ask yourself if you really need this. Sometimes, the simple capabilities we already have may be enough.

I’ll explore these architectural decisions and things to consider in upcoming posts.

It’s not all magic, but there are implications and considerations for your systems to live in a cloud that breathes. Are you ready?

Check out more coverage from IBM Pulse 2014

Mike McGuire: A conversation with Steve Twist, Australian cloud expert

Frank Bauerle: Does cloud computing drive business agility?

Indrajit Bhattacharya: Bottlenecks and cloud scaling

Allan Tate: Three ways IBM Pulse 2014 exemplifies our times

Rob Phippen: Integration and cloud: A new chapter in a long story

Sarit Sotangkur: Five key takeaways for developers

Rakesh Ranjan: The data scientist’s guide to BlueMix

Angel Luis Diaz: IBM to sponsor Cloud Foundry Foundation

Michael J. Fork: IBM leads with Codename: BlueMix

Steve Strutt: Standing room only at Open Cloud Summit

Ron Kline: Hybrid cloud is here (and its future is dynamic)

Senior Cloud Solutioning Architect

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