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April 19, 2012

Fujitsu Says Big Data Pushing HPC into Mainstream

Datanami Staff

Over the last couple of years, the phrases “cloud computing” and “big data” have been on the lips of IT vendors and users alike, signaling a shift to new models of handling the rush of data spawned by new ways of collecting and using information.

The other buzzword that has been circulating in increasingly wider (business) circles lately, however, is one that is related to a less familiar concept for many enterprise IT folks. It’s high performance computing (HPC), also known as supercomputing.

According to many in the HPC community, especially on the hardware side, the big data trend (and all the buzz associated with it) is creating new opportunities for the once “high and mighty” world of supercomputing.

This is a field that many used to think of as purely academic—an out-of-reach segment of the IT spectrum for the average IT shop.

According to several in that elite subset of technology, including HPC stalwart, Cray, there are new uses for HPC cropping up across the enterprise world—and not just in the expected places like high-frequency trading or massive-scale oil and gas operations.

Rod Vawdrey, President of the Global Business Group & Corporate Senior Vice President of Fujitsu Ltd. echoed the sentiments of Cray and others in supercomputing who say that HPC is coming closer to the mainstream, thanks to the convergence of big data, cloud and even mobile trends.

According to Vawdrey, supercomputing represents a set of indispensable technologies that are allowing us to tackle some of society’s most pressing problems. He points to the role of high performance computing in doing everything from optimizing crop performance to ensure adequate delivery and crunching of massive healthcare information, to better understanding food distribution for hunger prevention.

As he notes, however, the data influx from our connected world is leading to a new set of problems that represent new hope for solving world challenges, but also present challenges in terms of delivering, accessing and computing. As he says, “The Internet has really shaped the way we work and live. It’s connected us all together and by connecting us all together we also have to consider the amount of data and information that is flowing through the network.”

The Fujitsu Senior VP says that we are going to have more and more mobile devices, tablets and smartphones at one end, and at the other end, we are going to have to process all this information and data that becomes available. The supercomputers and the masses of storage and processing capability really enable that to happen.

As Vawdrey stated, there is an increasing closeness or synergy between high performance computing and big data. “I think supercomputing was something that was always thought of as something that was used in research and academia,” he said, noting that “What’s happened now, with the advance of technology and the price performance equation, is we now can bring it into commercial applications.”

The Fujitsu lead says that with supercomputing and the advent of cloud delivery models, which enable us to have effectively a shared service, we can take slices of compute power and deliver it to small businesses.  Enabling them to have the same tools and capabilities as large corporations, which is “really a great way for them to compete and grow their businesses.”

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