Higher Performance for Higher Ed: Rescale for Academia, Research and Government

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Summary

Rescale offers a platform that enables government, research and academic institutions to utilize and leverage high performance computing on-premise, in the cloud and across multiple HPC centers. Users are presented with a single unified portal to submit jobs to systems on-premise, to multiple cloud providers or across HPC centers. Administrators are able to manage users, permissions, resources and budgets across the multiple environments.

Key benefits

Multi-cloud and multi-center HPC enables a way to rethink high performance computing for government, research and academia. HPC used to be limited to running applications at a given center, with one architecture to serve all needs. This meant at times more compute power (and more cost) than needed and other times less compute power than ideal. One center with a fixed size system needs to manage the inevitable peaks and valleys in the workload, leading to periods of low utilization with unused resources, and periods of high utilization with long queues to access the system. A multi-center multi-cloud environment enables to better match different architectures for the jobs, and to better manage the variability of the workload.

Ride the technology curve

Rescale enables the possibility to have immediate access to the latest architectures available without having to wait for procuring, installing and provisioning systems in house. Rescale enables to run each job at a different center or cloud provider match the job with the best possible architecture.

Simple and powerful

For people with HPC experience and comfort with scripting languages, Rescale offers a single unified powerful CLI/API which enables to submit jobs to any of the architectures across multiple HPC centers and cloud providers. For newer or casual users, Rescale offers a simple GUI which enables to select the workflow type and applications to run.

Applications ported and tuned

Rescale has ported more than 300 commercial and open source applications. These benchmarked and tuned applications and stacks offer the possibility to run on the target architecture getting the best possible performance every time. HPC centers are able to add their own applications for the use of their own centers or to enable broader access to their own internally developed applications.

Recommendation engine

When a user selects an application Rescale recommends where to run it. One application may run more effectively on a powerful CPU with a high-speed interconnect, while another one may run better on large memory nodes connected with Ethernet.

Managing software licenses

Rescale manages software licenses. When using commercial software, Rescale enables users to run applications across the Rescale cloud by either choosing pay-per-use licenses or by using the user’s already owned licenses.

Administration

Rescale’s administration portal offers the capabilities to instantly manage the multi-cloud cross-center environment. Rescale administration integrates with the center’s administration, enabling a single way to create user accounts, and an integrated way to provide user support.

Enabling collaboration

Rescale enables each HPC center to make resources available on the Rescale cloud. These resources may be offered for a price, which may enable collaboration with industry, or as an exchange with other centers. In either situation, Rescale tracks utilization of resources, and enables to bill, cross-charge, or report utilization.

Rescale features enable collaboration. Users are able to “share” jobs with other users. This permits multiple users across the world to collaborate on the same projects, visualize results at the same time, or review results at a later time after job completion. Users are also able to “clone” jobs, which enable them to make derivative research by changing any of the parameters of the original job.

Strict security

Rescale provides the strictest security at multiple levels, including physical security (in collaboration with our cloud provider partners), network, operating system, application, backup and redundancy, file security, logging, monitoring, user security, operations and compliance. Rescale has a team of people dedicated to managing security, and it meets the strictest compliance requirements. In particular, Rescale offers an ITAR platform today, and we are in the process of achieving FedRAMP compliance.

Managing budgets

Users in academia worry about runaway cost if they offer students and researchers access to the public cloud. Rescale offers budgets and limits than may be assigned to the individual, the project or the institution. As users or groups consume their allocated budget, they either need to wait for the next allocation period, or request additional funds, but there would be no runaway costs.

NSF Report

The report on the 2018 NSF CISE workshop on cloud computing for academia talks about the benefits of cloud computing:

“Cloud platforms provide on-demand, elastic, and self-serve access to resources at scale and are thus capable of supporting large-scale and/or big data computing. They provide access to contemporary hardware and advanced software stacks, with users “riding the technology curve” as new technologies are made available in the cloud. The on-demand nature of access to resources can provide a “fast path” to computing—acquiring cloud resources is much faster than buying, installing, and operating on-premise, localized hardware. Cloud platforms can also support important new modalities of data, such as streaming data and real-time analytics on such data. CISE (Computer and Information Science and Engineering) researchers and educators can leverage modern cloud platforms to accelerate and improve their research and teaching, instead of building and deploying dedicated local infrastructure. (And beyond CISE, an academic cloud can benefit all other disciplines in academia.)”

The report continues to highlight a number of positives for cloud computing in academia, including lower cost, lower energy consumption, no space needed to host a system, better security/privacy, better availability, shared access to data, software and tools, reproducible research, training students in cloud and access for smaller schools.

The document also discusses the key challenges to cloud adoption in academia including artificially high cost of cloud to universities, managing overruns in charges, choosing from a large and diverse set of cloud offerings, being an early adopter, complex access, lack of support, uncertainty about privacy restrictions, and ability to retain cloud access after a grant period ends.

Conclusion

The NSF report echoes our sentiment of both the significant benefits of cloud, as well as the challenges of embarking in a move to cloud. The report gives strength to Rescale’s platform approach, which enables users to access resources on premises or across multiple cloud providers in a uniform manner, enabling them to ride the technology curve and easily navigate the complexities of accessing different cloud providers and architectures. Administrators have the ability of instant multi-cloud administration which enables them to track utilization and set budgets and limits to avoid potential runaway costs.

Gabriel Broner is Vice President and General Manager of High Performance Computing at Rescale. Prior to joining Rescale in 2017, Gabriel spent 25 years in the industry, as Operating System Architect in Cray, General Manager at Microsoft, Head of Innovation at Ericsson, Vice President and General Manager of High Performance Computing at SGI/HPE.

This article was written by Gabriel Broner.