Linux is the undisputed operating system of choice for traditional HPC workloads or “number crunching”. This is again proven by the most current list of the top500 supercomputers, which has just been published yesterday during the Supercomputing Conference 2012 in Salt Lake City. An impressive 93,8% of all supercomputers listed here is running Linux.
But with regards to “High Productivity Computing”, there are still some challenges to solve:
- Enterprises are adopting Linux for all kinds of workloads in their data centers. But many organizations and companies do still trust in “unpaid” and unmaintained Linux versions for their HPC computing. However, HPC is an integral component of today’s enterprise computing infrastructure. Therefore, standard IT policies should be implemented, means that customers should deploy maintained Linux systems – such as SUSE Linux Enterprise – in order to get the system updated automatically and have access to 7 x 24 support. One of the biggest values of a maintained Linux operating system to the end user is the quality of the operating system and the support customers can get from the company producing it. An IT organization that is operating a Linux platform without a support and maintenance ecosystem behind is entirely dependent on the good will of the development community in case of technical difficulties. This situation harbors an incalculable risk. If critical questions are not answered quickly or correctly, this can cause system failures and data loss. SUSE has been working closely with leading hardware and software vendors for years now, and is strengthening its partnerships to provide even better value for its customers and provides broad support services from all relevant vendors.
- Enterprises that are long-time UNIX users for their HPC business workloads need to understand that they fully can rely on Linux, that Linux did reach UNIX parity and in many segments even surpassed UNIX with regard to availability, scalability and performance.
- Businesses that are used to use Windows need to “have the heart” to check out alternatives – and dual-boot HPC systems might be a first step. As Linux and Windows seem to become the two dominant platforms of the future in the enterprise, there will be an increasing need for these operating systems and the tools that manage them to work well together. Systems that lack well-developed interoperability capabilities can cause inefficiencies throughout the enterprise. For example, limited interoperability between Linux and Windows environments, in both physical and virtual instances, can lead to server sprawl. It can also lead to redundant management tools and inefficient use of IT staff. This translates as well for HPC; it seems to be logical that the two major platforms used in the HPC market will be Linux (primarily) and Windows – and they need to interoperate well in this area also.
Thanks to its speedy adoption of technical innovations and improvements – or even better, as Linux very often is “spearheading” technical innovations, Linux will further play a significant role in the new HPC market dynamics, where HPC turns more and more into “High Productivity Computing”.
Part V – How HPC innovation is spilling over to mainstream IT