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X-ISS builds turnkey HPC for the masses

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X-ISS is an interesting company. Based out of Houston, it's been around for almost 20 years, offering a full slate of HPC systems and services.

The company has enhanced its turnkey HPC service with VizHPC, a visualization offering. This combo deal of hardware and services will cover the wall(s) of your choice with monitors showing highly detailed representations of data coming off your clusters in real time. X-ISSS has flavors to suit a variety of tastes, including Linux, Windows HPC Server 2008, and standard Windows.

Most HPC vendors focus on providing highly optimized, cutting-edge systems and HPC solutions; they’ll configure the right boxes and get them running well enough to hit the required performance metrics.

X-ISS does that stuff and more, but its approach to the market is quite different; it looks at each customer engagement with a more business-oriented approach than most specialist HPC vendors.

By this, I mean that the company is looking to provide value outside the hardware or specific solution by initially focusing on the overall “business goals” of the customer.

Does the customer need to increase throughput in order to attain higher revenue? Or are they looking to increase utilization, improve efficiency, or reduce costs? This a more comprehensive approach than simply configuring as much fast gear as the budget will allow and putting it into a proposal.   X-ISS also pays a lot of attention to HPC operations. Its best fit is for organizations that don’t have (or don’t want) a large staff of IT specialists to handle the care and feeding of their HPC systems.

As X-ISS evolved over the years, the company perceived the need for HPC-specific management tools to handle day-to-day admin tasks and also to track activity in order to help handle (and plan for) future growth.   To address these needs, the company has developed DecisionHPC, a software package that monitors and tracks system, application, project, and user activity. This gives customers the ability to clearly spot trends and better plan for future growth.

The company is also offering ManagedHPC as a way for customers to outsource HPC system management to X-ISS personnel. For customers, it can eliminate the need for specialized HPC systems administrators – who can be hard to find in many locations. It’s not for everyone; it’s really aimed at customers with fewer than 250 cluster nodes who either need complete management or are looking to add to the skills and coverage of their existing IT staff.

X-ISS has carved out a comfortable market niche with its monitoring products and management services. I see this as a growing segment of the market due to business-side management demanding advanced analytic capabilities that will require HPC-like computational infrastructures. Many corporate IT departments don’t have the skills or bandwidth to architect, implement, or manage these solutions – which is an opportunity for X-ISS.

Like every opportunity, it’s both good news and bad news: the bad news is that heightened demand will attract competitors just as a 50 per cent off buffet coupon attracts hungry, fat people. But there are worse problems than being an early pioneer in a growing market. You could be the dessert chef at a buffet restaurant that just put out a 50 per cent off coupon…

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