Today, most organizations run some, if not all, of their IT operations in the public cloud. Over the past few years, even the HPC cloud 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 features, but there are several factors you will need to understand and consider before running HPC applications in the public cloud rather than locally in your own data center.
Advantages of the HPC Cloud
- No need to house and maintain hardware – Hardware investments to support HPC workloads can be significant. With the cloud, you can significantly reduce your expenses for this hardware.
- Avoid over- or underuse of equipment – With the cloud, you are better able to match hardware resources to the individual HPC tasks you plan to perform. This flexibility saves you from having to adjust your internal hardware investments or risk having too much or too little hardware for your HPC workloads.
- Access the latest specialized hardware and software – Cloud providers often offer state-of-the-art hardware and software, allowing organizations to stay up-to-date and even test new technologies on their own.
- Simplify your costs – Although cloud services are not cheap, the costs are constant and predictable. There are no unexpected costs when new hardware is needed, or potentially wasted money on underutilized hardware investments.
Disadvantages of Cloud HPC
- Ensure performance meets your needs – You will need to ensure that your cloud service provider uses the latest servers, processors, networking hardware, and storage solutions to meet your HPC workload requirements. Your workloads must perform the same as on-premises resources or your investment suffers. But pooling cloud compute nodes to match on-premises performance can get expensive, and it’s an expense you’ll need to understand before jumping into cloud HPC.
- Securing your data – Ensuring the large amounts of your proprietary data is secure in the cloud is always a concern. Most users are more confident in the security measures they use on their on-premises systems, so it’s crucial to work with a cloud provider that can demonstrate they are using security measures that meet your standards.
- Data download costs – There are costs associated with downloading and retrieving your data from the cloud, including monetary charges and time expenses with the time the recovery will take.
- Hidden costs – It is essential to ensure that you know in advance all the charges that the cloud service provider attaches to its services. You cannot afford to be caught off guard by new hidden fees once you have invested and are already trying to achieve results with your investment.
The HPC Hybrid Cloud Advantage
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, giving you a higher level of flexibility than choosing one strategy over another.
This option also allows you to focus your internal teams on different strategies. For example, your development team might focus their workloads on the HPC cloud, while your systems engineers might work exclusively with on-premises resources. This allows for a uniform and simplified division of labor and a simpler understanding of the effectiveness of your investments in each.
Choose your partners
To get the most efficient and cost-effective solution for your HPC needs, both in the cloud and on-premises, it’s imperative to choose your technology partners wisely. Look for a cloud service provider with HPC experience that offers industry-leading technologies that can handle your high-performance workloads. And make sure their pricing structure is transparent with no hidden surprises.
When choosing a technology partner for any on-premises investment, it is essential to find one with experience and expertise. Silicon Mechanics is one of the world’s largest privately held HPC and AI solutions providers. For over 20 years, we’ve provided bespoke open source systems and professional services expertise to overcome the world’s toughest IT challenges. Learn more about HPC solutions from Silicon Mechanics at www.siliconmechanics.com/clusters.