The renaissance of HEC? Cray, Inc. and Microsoft Azure

Cloud computing is a well understood concept, and the industry has adopted it extensively. But one topic that I’d not given much thought to despite following this trend for some time, is high performance and high end computing (HPC and HEC). Both paradigms have, historically, been very close to the multi-user, multi-tenanted philosophy of Cloud. It turns out Cray, Inc. last year announced a partnership with Microsoft to bring some of their capabilities to the Azure platform.

For data analytics workloads, this makes a lot of sense, and I hope it bears fruit.

It has the potential to develop better solutions for the industry on the one hand, but, most crucially, in my view it has the potential to sustain and support the HPC/HEC sectors on the other.

Companies like Cray, Inc., Tera Corporation, and even Thinking Machines, have had a challenging time sustaining their business models in the face of relentless commoditisation and promotion of distributed computing architectures. Platforms such as Azure or AWS have the potential to reverse that very quickly, assuming their offerings are accessible and easily adopted by systems integrators.