[Beowulf] The True Cost of HPC Cluster Ownership
tjrc at sanger.ac.uk
Tue Aug 11 12:32:53 EDT 2009
On 11 Aug 2009, at 3:38 pm, Daniel Pfenniger wrote:
> Douglas Eadline wrote:
>> I posted this on ClusterMonkey the other week.
>> It is actually derived from a white paper I wrote for
>> SiCortex. I'm sure those on this list have some
>> experience/opinions with these issues (and other
>> cluster issues!)
>> The True Cost of HPC Cluster Ownership
> This article sounds unbalanced and self-serving.
> While it I clear that self-made clusters imply added new costs
> in regard of turn-key clusters, they also empower the buyer
> using standard and open solutions by an increased independence from
> the vendor, and increases also its knowledge for future choices.
> This aspect is hard to measure in monetary terms, but certainly very
> important for some users.
I agree. Some of the biggest IT problems I've encountered have been a
direct result of vendor lock-in. Companies get bought, and products
crushed. The wind changes direction, and products get dropped, side-
lined, changed more or less on a whim. Rash promises made by vendors
which never come true.
In our case it was the dismembering of DEC during its various
acquisitions which hurt us, and that saga contains examples of most of
And then the customer has to start again, which can be enormously
expensive in terms of researching new ways to go, and migrating
services. Just one part of that saga (the abandonment of the AdvFS
filesystem) cost us more than six months of continuous work to get
past, just copying the data onto something else. That was years ago;
with the petabytes of data we have now, it would be even worse.
Once bitten, twice shy.
If you've made the investment in house to have a vendor-agnostic
setup, which we now have, we have complete freedom to choose whatever
tin vendor we like, at least as far as our compute nodes go. Our
configuration, deployment and management software stack works on
anything, so it's very little skin off our nose to change vendor.
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