Showing posts with label consulting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label consulting. Show all posts

Friday, 10 January 2020

Over a decade of HPC consulting success at NAG

From small beginnings ...

It is almost 12 years since I joined NAG to build and lead the HPC consulting and services business. Over that time, we have built a consulting business from a tiny start to its current thriving status. We have helped a wide range of customers around the world of High-Performance Computing (HPC) and related areas such as cloud computing and machine learning by providing training and tutorials, multi-year professional services contracts, benchmarking services, focused consulting projects, impartial procurement expertise, strategic and technical advice, and more.

Protecting our customers' confidentiality and competitive advantages has been a strong theme of our success, which is why we have rarely been able to name our customers. We have helped many of the big oil & gas companies, plus several smaller ones, aerospace companies, manufacturing companies, automotive companies, public supercomputer centres, universities, government organisations, sports entities, HPC and cloud vendors, entertainment industry, and others.

The trusted position we have earned in the HPC community is arguably unique and will be difficult to replicate. There are very few other organisations worldwide who can genuinely offer the expertise, experience, impartiality and integrity that NAG delivered.

HPC requires expertise - technical and business

HPC, whether traditional simulation, or using on-premises supercomputers, or combined machine learning and simulation, or in the cloud, is hard. Creating a robust and compelling business case for investment is not easy. Reducing the risk of decisions in strategic direction, technology selection, staffing, software development, is not easy. Finding skilled HPC programmers is not easy. Delivering cost-effective and high-impact HPC services (rather than just standing up a machine) is not easy.

The current era of technology diversity in the HPC world is good for innovation and competitiveness. HPC buyers and users clearly benefit from this with better capabilities and pricing, but they must also manage the uncertainty and risk that the increased decision spaces create. Which CPU? On-premises vs cloud? Which cloud solution? Which system architecture? Which business model?

Over the last decade, we have helped customers and friends solve these challenges. The range of issues and number of customers impacted continue to grow.

I hope NAG has a bright future ahead with the new CEO, the healthy market opportunities, and the vision developing within the Executive Team. I expect NAG will continue to be a rare source of proven expertise in techncial computing.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Finding a Competitive Advantage with High Performance Computing

High Performance Computing (HPC), or supercomputing, is a critical enabling capability for many industries, including energy, aerospace, automotive, manufacturing, and more. However, one of the most important aspects of HPC is that HPC is not only an enabler, it is often also a differentiator – a fundamental means of gaining a competitive advantage.

Differentiating with HPC

Differentiating (gaining a competitive advantage) through HPC can include:
  • faster - complete calculations in a shorter time;
  • more - complete more computations in a given amount of time;
  • better - undertake more complex computations;
  • cheaper - deliver computations at a lower cost;
  • confidence - increase the confidence in the results of the computations; and 
  • impact - effectively exploiting the results of the computations in the business.
These are all powerful business benefits, enabling quicker and better decision making, reducing the cost of business operations, better understanding risk, supporting safety, etc.

Strategic delivery choices are the broad decisions about how to do/use HPC within an organization. This might include:
  • choosing between cloud computing and traditional in-house HPC systems (or points on a spectrum between these two extremes);
  • selecting between a cost-driven hardware philosophy and a capability-driven hardware philosophy;
  • deciding on a balance of internal capability and externally acquired capability;
  • choices on the balance of investment across hardware, software, people and processes.
The answers to these strategic choices will depend on the environment (market landscape, other players, etc.), how and where you want to navigate that environment, and why. This is an area where our consulting customers benefit from our expertise and experience. If I were to extract a core piece of advice from those many consulting projects, it would be: "explicitly make a decision rather than drift into one, and document the reasons, risk accepted, and stakeholder buy-in".

Which HPC technology?

A key means of differentiating with HPC, and one of the most visible, is through the choice of hardware technologies used and at what scale. The HPC market is currently enjoying (or is it suffering?) a broader range of credible hardware technology options than the previous few years.