HPC for SMB – The Issues and The Opportunity

June 8th, 2009 9:43 am
Posted by Ian Miller

We are working our way through a serious economic crisis that has affected economies, businesses and people worldwide. Major economic turmoil tends to send organizations back to their core competencies and, unpleasant as these crises are, gives them the opportunity to reassess their missions and to try and come out of these times stronger and more capable. It is clear from the new Obama administration, that making the US more competitive requires investment in research towards new automobiles, new energy systems, new public transport systems and many other initiatives. The operative word is research as a vehicle for new innovation.

The heartbeat of any economy is its small and medium business sector. Jobs tend to be created quickly in this sector and SMB companies are quick to spot opportunities and move into realizing them. Yet with all this capability and potential, it is also clear that SMB companies have been slow to adopt high performance computing systems to support their research & development functions. There is overwhelming evidence that using HPC systems to simulate reality speeds up R&D and gets products to market faster and cheaper than other approaches. So why the reluctance for SMB organizations to adopt this technology?

The answer is the perceived complexity of HPC systems and a fear of the costs and overheads of adopting this technology. Many SMB companies to do not have IT teams or dedicated computer rooms and need the ability to deploy HPC systems in their existing office infrastructure and without needing to hire an army of computer specialists. The US Council for Competitiveness (www.compete.org) pointed to the need for "ease of everything" as the key to assisting these companies take advantage of the benefits of high performance computing.

Cray took these messages very seriously with the creation of the Cray CX1 deskside supercomputer. It plugs into standard 20amp office power, has noise suppression to make it easy to install in the open office, and comes preinstalled with Windows HPC Server 2008 or Linux. It is also Intel Cluster Ready certified to give SMB customers the confidence that the system will work right out of the box. Add to those capabilities partnerships with the leading software vendors in the HPC space (companies like Ansys, CD-Adapco, Milliman, Simulia and many others) and you have a system ready, willing and able to help SMB companies tackle their R&D challenges and give them the opportunity to come out of this economic downturn with new products or services and a stronger ability to compete.


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Author Info

Ian Miller joined Cray in February 2008 and currently heads up Cray’s Productivity Solutions group with the recently introduced Cray CX1 desk side supercomputer – an Intel Cluster Ready product. Mr. Miller also leads Cray’s corporate marketing organization. Prior to joining Cray, he served as the Vice President of Polyserve Software at HP and as Vice President of Worldwide Sales for PolyServe prior to its acquisition by HP. Before joining PolyServe, Mr. Miller was Vice President of Worldwide sales for IBM High End xSeries Servers where he worked for both IBM xSeries and pSeries organizations, with a particular focus on marketing and sales for high end Intel based systems. Prior to IBM, he was Vice President of Global Marketing for Sequent Computer Systems, and Vice President Asia Pacific. Miller has also worked for Software AG as Senior Vice President Asia Pacific, and for Unisys in many capacities, ending as General Manager for Asia South. Mr. Miller is a Graduate of London University.