Once you have identified your HPC cloud migration strategy, you will want to research cloud providers. Choosing the right cloud provider or providers (some enterprises employ more than one) will depend upon several factors, not least of which is the types of workloads you plan to run in the cloud. It’s important to understand which provider offers the best combination of features and resources that meet your unique needs while providing you with maximum value.
As with any business expenditure, you will want to exercise diligence when evaluating providers, including their data center security and their level of HPC experience. References from customers operating in industries similar to yours can be helpful as you whittle down to a short-list.
Generally, the cloud solution you choose should be easy to deploy and manage. Your provider should offer best-in-class infrastructure including the latest hardware and GPUs, broad application support, solid security, expert support, and a reasonable easy-to-understand cost structure.
The range of services offered by cloud providers can be overwhelming. We have prepared 7 categories to help kickstart your evaluation process. By no means is this an exhaustive list that will come later!
For high performance computing, the latest CPUs and GPU accelerators are critical, as is high-speed networking with 10 Gbps or faster connections to the cloud and fast connections between cloud instances. You may want dedicated or bare-metal servers and high-performance storage that can handle both high-bandwidth and high-transaction (IOPS) workloads. Choose a vendor that can deliver consistent compute and storage performance at scale.
This seems like a no-brainer but there are many aspects to reliability, including redundancy and cross geo data replication. Look for providers with multiple data centers that include redundant power, cooling and network carriers. Be sure support is proven in the area of HPC and is available 24×7. Your cloud provider should demonstrate experience in building, running and supporting HPC environments.
Your HPC cloud provider should offer a wide range of flexible solutions and have a good understanding of hybrid cloud. Look for the ability to select the right machine for the type of jobs you will run, as well as mixing physical and virtual machines when needed.
Ask about tools and features like auto scaling, resource management, and persistent disk storage. Look at for a variety of data storage options include file systems, relational databases, key-value stores, and object stores. What are the procedures for importing and exporting data, as well as backup and storage to integrate with your on-premise infrastructure and applications?
If your provider is unable or unwilling to offer flexibility and customization when needed, move on.
End-to-end data protection should be non-negotiable. Ask about physical and software precautions put in place. Look for non-shared servers, storage and segregated networks to protect your valuable data. Also, if you are bound by regulatory regulations like HIPAA or financial regulation, look for providers that comply with requirements and accept compliance related risks.
Your provider should make encryption available to protect both data at rest and data in motion and these services should work with high-performance file-transfer or data replication solutions.
Location of data centers
Because security and compliance regulations vary from country to country, enterprises operating worldwide should be aware of where their cloud provider hosts data. If your data and applications are highly sensitive, know where your users are geographically and ensure data centers are located close by.
Beyond the basic capabilities of flexible compute, storage, networking, provisioning, and auto scaling, there are other aspects to consider when it comes to HPC in the cloud.
Your provider should allow you to ‘grow and shrink’ the computing resources you need, even on short notice. For example, you may need additional computing power for just a few hours to handle a temporary workload increase. Other times, you may want additional capacity for indefinite periods. Your provider should be equipped with the tools to automate the process of increasing and decreasing capacity, helping to manage your cost burden, thereby delivering value.
Making a true price comparison between providers can be difficult, due to their varying pricing models and discount structures. Above all, look for clarity in pricing plans. Most reputable providers offer online price calculators to get you started, and free introductory tiers that allow you to ‘try before you buy’.
For a detailed pricing discussion, be sure to read Rob Lalonde’s blog article, Is Cloud Computing Right for Your Business. Remember, you will need to optimize your on-premises resources to reap full value from high performance computing in the cloud. Univa is here to help you! Send us your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.