Feeds

Cycle Computing fires up 10,000-core HPC cloud on EC2

Only $1,060 per hour, management included

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Setting up a 10,000-core physical server cluster to run supercomputing workloads is a tough task that can take weeks or months, and cost millions of dollars including the servers, storage, switching, and personnel overhead. And the thing about a cluster is that no matter how hard you try to share it, it is very tough to get anywhere near peak utilization over the course of the year.

Enter the cloud, which HPC customers have been skeptical about (remember the Sun Cloud?) but may start taking a shining to given the compelling economics and the management and security services that companies are layering on top of public clouds.

Cycle Computing has made a tidy little business for itself firing up HPC grids on various public clouds using its homegrown cloud management and security tools. Last month, Genentech, arguably the pioneer of the modern biotech industry and now a part of the Roche big pharma conglomerate, came to Cycle Computing to have it fire up 80,000 hours of computing time on a 10,000 virtual core HPC cluster on Amazon's EC2 compute cloud to run one of its protein analysis jobs.

Genentech didn't want to use the Amazon EC2 Virtual Private Cloud launched in July 2009, which takes virtualized servers and corrals them into their own virtual private network, or the specialized dedicated HPC VPC instances with 10 Gigabit Ethernet networking, which debuted last August. The VPC options are pricier than raw EC2 capacity, and Genentech wanted to have Cycle Computing manage deal with the setup, monitoring, and breakdown of the virtual cluster.

This is something that Cycle Computing now does for a living. The HPC startup that was founded in 2005 by Jason Stowe, the company's chief executive officer, to provide services to HPC shops deploying the open source "Condor" grid management system developed at the University of Wisconsin. (Condor is now the key grid software used by Red Hat in its Enterprise Linux 6 distribution.) Stowe previous worked for Walt Disney Studios before setting up his company and helped manage movie production and was well aware of the need for computing capacity for film production.

Cycle Computing has created two tools to manage virtual HPC clusters. The first is called CycleServer, a management and encryption layer that rides atop Condor that Cycle Computing delivered in 2007 to help simplify its own life, and CycleCloud, a domain layer that rides atop of the EC2 compute cloud at Amazon as well as on the Rackspace Cloud from Rackspace Hosting and any public cloud that runs VMware's vSphere and vCloud combo. CycleServer monitors the jobs and tells Condor how to move workloads around the grid of virtual servers, while CycleCloud provisions the images onto EC2 and other public clouds.

Stowe tells El Reg that during December last year, Cycle Computing set up increasingly large clusters on behalf of customers to start testing the limits. First, it did a 2,000-core cluster in early December, and then a 4,096-core cluster in late December. The 10,000-core cluster that Cycle Computing set up and ran for eight hours on behalf of Genentech would have ranked at 114 on the Top 500 computing list from last November (the most current ranking), so it was not exactly a toy even if the cluster was ephemeral.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
BOFH: WHERE did this 'fax-enabled' printer UPGRADE come from?
Don't worry about that cable, it's part of the config
Azure TITSUP caused by INFINITE LOOP
Fat fingered geo-block kept Aussies in the dark
You think the CLOUD's insecure? It's BETTER than UK.GOV's DATA CENTRES
We don't even know where some of them ARE – Maude
Want to STUFF Facebook with blatant ADVERTISING? Fine! But you must PAY
Pony up or push off, Zuck tells social marketeers
Yahoo! blames! MONSTER! email! OUTAGE! on! CUT! CABLE! bungle!
Weekend woe for BT as telco struggles to restore service
Oi, Europe! Tell US feds to GTFO of our servers, say Microsoft and pals
By writing a really angry letter about how it's harming our cloud business, ta
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.