High performance computing goes mainstream

High performance computing goes mainstream

According to new research from SUSE, six in ten UK businesses will use a practical application of HPC within the next year.

High performance computing (HPC) is increasingly benefitting UK businesses. Today 86% of UK IT staff see HPC as vital for the enterprise, given its role supporting advanced analytics and simulated modelling applications now and in future.

Commissioned by SUSE and carried out by Censuswide, the poll aimed to understand the extent to which large organisations in the UK, France and Germany are implementing or preparing to implement practical applications of HPC as well as IT professionals’ perspectives on HPC’s role in business innovation today. 

HPC-powered innovation: No longer limited to academia

Amongst IT professionals in the UK with an understanding of HPC technology, nine in ten (91%) view HPC as “a force for good”, with 89% agreeing that it is one of the key technologies advancing innovation today.

This recognition of HPC’s role as a driving force for positive change now extends to the enterprise. 

While traditionally linked to scientific research, the majority (87%) of UK IT staff agree that HPC systems now hold massive economic potential for the government, academia and other industries. 

In fact, three quarters (74%) of UK IT professionals – compared to 83% in Germany and 73% in France – have a good idea of how HPC could positively impact their business.

Beyond driving innovation, HPC is understood to be key as a competitive differentiator for businesses today.

Four-fifths (79%) of UK IT staff believe that organisations that don’t consider implementing a practical application of HPC will severely impact their competitive advantage in the next five years.

Preparing for HPC in the enterprise

Large organisations in Germany are leading HPC uptake in the enterprise. Almost two-thirds (63%) of German respondents are already using a practical application of HPC in their business compared with 41% in France.

In the UK, over two-fifths (43%) of the IT professionals surveyed confirmed their business is already using a practical application of HPC, with a further 48% currently considering taking this approach.

Of the British organisations looking into implementing a practical application of HPC, more than a third (35%) plan to do so in less than a year while 47% are working to a one to two year timeline. Fewer than one in ten (9%) British companies are neither doing this nor considering it.

In preparation for this shift, almost one in five (17%) large UK organisations have already upskilled the workforce for HPC implementation – compared to 25% in Germany and 19% in France.

However, a further 51% of UK respondents are now in the process of upskilling colleagues to prepare for the introduction of practical applications of HPC in the enterprise.

“HPC may have its roots in academia or government institutions but a broader spectrum of organisations – from banking and healthcare to retail and utilities – are increasingly turning to HPC to deliver massive computing power,” said Matt Eckersall, regional director, EMEA West at SUSE.  

“While the historic cost of HPC or “supercomputers” had limited its use to certain market segments, the evolution of both lower cost hardware and Linux has dramatically reduced the price of these systems.

With compute power increasing on a scale of one thousand in just a few years, many commercial companies are now able to tap into the power of supercomputers in the form of an HPC Linux cluster – and reap the rewards.” 

IT concerns

When considering increasing business adoption of HPC, almost one in five (19%) UK respondents view cost and maintenance as the greatest concern – specifically how cost effective it is to manage and maintain. Comparatively, only 9% are concerned about the initial outlay cost of this technology.

However, almost one in five (17%) UK IT professionals are concerned about not having the right skills available to handle this move to HPC while 15% are worried about compute power, i.e. finding faster processing power with the ending of Moore's Law.

“As more organisations apply sophisticated analysis techniques to business data or adopt AI and machine learning, there will be increasing demand for cost-effective HPC solutions that are easy-to-deploy and easy-to-support,” said Eckersall. 

“Businesses are upskilling staff and preparing to implement practical applications of HPC but a key factor in their success will be selecting the most efficient and effective HPC platform to run these new workloads in a parallel computing environment. 

“To take advantage of all the benefits of HPC, organisations require a highly scalable, high performance open source operating system designed to utilise the power of parallel computing but built for easy adoption and flexibility. Previously costly and proprietary solutions have become affordable and open – giving many more organisations access to easy-to-deploy and highly efficient HPC solutions which can accelerate business innovation.”

Image Credit: U.S. Department of Energy