Analysis

Windows HPC Server and Windows Azure

High-Performance computing in the Cloud.

Windows Azure Thumb

The essence of high-performance computing (HPC) is processing power. Whether implemented using traditional supercomputers or more modern computer clusters, HPC requires having lots of available computing resources.

Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 Suite lets organizations provide these resources with Windows Server machines. By letting those machines be managed as a cluster, then providing tools for deploying and running HPC jobs on that cluster, the product makes Windows a foundation for high-performance computing. Many organizations today use Windows HPC Server clusters running in their own data centers to solve a range of hard problems.

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But with the rise of cloud computing, the world of HPC is changing. Why not take advantage of the massive data centers now available in the cloud? For example, Microsoft's Windows Azure provides on- demand access to lots of virtual machines (VMs) and acres of cheap storage, letting you pay only for the resources you use.

The potential benefits for HPC are obvious. Rather than relying solely on your own on-premises cluster, using the cloud gives you access to more compute power when you need it. For example, suppose your on-premises cluster is sufficient for mostbut not allof your organization's workloads. Or suppose one of your HPC applications sometimes needs more processing power. Rather than buy more machines, you can instead rely on a cloud data center to provide extra computing resources on demand. Depending on the kinds of jobs your organization runs, it might even be feasible to eventually move more and more of your HPC work into the cloud. This allows tilting HPC costs away from capital expense and toward operating expense, something that's attractive to many organizations.

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