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In a high-performance computing (HPC) project, every component of the infrastructure — hardware, software, storage and networking — is designed to operate at its best. But unless all of these components are calibrated to integrate seamlessly, overall system performance will suffer.
Designing in this seamlessness, however, is no easy task. Because of the vast variety of available options, it can be difficult to choose the right combination of size, cost and performance for our organization’s needs.
Because of the vast variety of available options, it can be difficult to choose the right combination of size, cost and performance for your organization’s needs.
Early HPC systems were not only expensive but also large. In recent years, though, the cost and size of modern systems has continued to decrease while efficiency has increased. Additionally, HPC projects are not exclusively hardware-based or software based, but rather a combination of hardware and software elected and integrated to make efficient and optimal use of available resources.
It’s important to establish whether HPC applications will be I/O-intensive, write-intensive, bandwidth-intensive or CPU-intensive before making a selection. And given the rapid rate of the technology’s evolution, any HPC installation should be built with the future in mind.
Given the complexities involved in an HPC project, companies should seek the help of professional project management teams by setting up an HPC project management office (PMO) to ensure a successful implementation. Following are a few key points to help establish an effective HPC PMO:
- Set clear HPC implementation goals. The HPC project management office must define HPC
implementation goals and specify which applications will run on the infrastructure. Application
profiling should align with compute, networking and storage requirements. Select experts from each
of these areas to help identify suitable technologies during the evaluation and testing
- Get management’s buy-in. Design a solid framework that outlines the benefits of the HPC
project and explains the role and importance of the PMO team. Make sure senior management approves
budgets for the HPC PMO setup and maintenance.
- Create a detailed implementation plan. The HPC project management office should draft an
end-to-end project implementation plan that covers the initial evaluation stage through design and
deployment. Involve all stakeholders before finalizing any decisions.
A well-designed implementation plan should include the following:
- Requirements definition
- Early evaluation or proof of concept
- Software development processes
- Hardware selection and tailoring (including consumer off-the-shelf products)
- C ompliance with ISO 9000, 9001 standards
- Communication plan. The HPC project management office should prepare a communication
plan that all stakeholders approve to avoid any confusion during implementation. Divide the project
into phases, and communicate the status of each phase to all involved as the project
- Establish a roles and responsibilities model. Roles and responsibilities of each member
of the HPC project management office should be defined as per the Responsibility, Accountability,
Consultancy and Informational model. This specifies who is responsible for various tasks; who is
accountable for tasks — approvers or a final approving authority; subject matter experts who will
be consulted during the project; and team members who must be kept informed on the progress and
completion of tasks.
- Conduct meetings. The HPC PMO should meet regularly to discuss the progress of the HPC
project. Circulate minutes of meetings among all stakeholders and top management.
- Submit design for approval. Once the evaluation phase is complete and the design has
been finalized, submit it to top management for approval and circulate it among the lines of
business that will be affected. The HPC PMO needs to ensure that benefits from the project are
highlighted adequately at this stage.
- Establish realistic timelines. The HPC PMO must set realistic timelines for the completion of each phase of the HPC project. Do not be overly optimistic, and make sure deadlines are met. Delays in this part of the process could undermine stakeholders’ confidence in the HPC project.
About the author: Anuj Sharma is an EMC Certified and NetApp accredited professional. Sharma has experience in handling implementation projects related to SAN, NAS and BURA. He also has to his credit several research papers published globally on SAN and BURA technologies.
This was first published in November 2012