Big Data for Business: Dell and Intel Power Cambridge HPC Solution Centre Expansion
Big data is being taken to a new level in order to drive vital academic and industrial research, allowing businesses to take advantage of immense computing power in a cost-effective manner.
Dell, Intel and the University of Cambridge (UoC) have announced details of its increased European HPC (High Performance Computing) solution centre research work. The Cambridge HPC Solution Centre aims to provide answers to challenges facing the HPC community and feed the results back into the wider research community.
Thanks to the centre, automotive partners are investigating new ways to access state of the art computer-aided dispatch (CAD) systems via remote visualization, astronomers are looking back at the beginning of the universe and medics are exploring the genetic analysis of tens of thousands of disease patients.
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Part of the project’s growth includes a new state-of-the-art data centre venue, containing 96 cabinets and cutting-edge cooling systems which run at 15 percent of the power output cost (1.15 PUE).
Cambridge has a rich computing history. The EDSCA 1, the first modern computer, was in operation from 1949, and such a legacy is evident today with the number of tech companies present in the surrounding business parks. There are 1,535 technology businesses in the vicinity of Cambridge with combined revenues of £13 billion and some 57,000 staff.
For the last four years, Dell and UoC have been co-running the HPC Solution Centre in an effort to provide solutions to real world problems by increasing the effectiveness of the HPC and data platforms used in the research community.
To enable the community to take further advantage of new research discoveries, UoC and Dell have now been joined by Intel to create an additional focus on large scale data centric HPC, data analytics and multi-tenanted cloud HPC provision.
Paul Calleja, head of HPC services, UoC, said: “The three-way collaboration strengthens the HPC centre. By creating a larger mass of skills and resources, we are able to focus on the emerging problems of data-centric HPC, data analytics and cloud based research computing services. We’re able to tackle the HPC challenges identified by the community and resolve real-world issues.”
Potential business sectors set to benefit from the work of the HPC Solutions Centre include retail, manufacturing, healthcare, engineering and marketing. Indeed nearly all business can benefit greatly from being able to maximise its use of data in a way that is affordable and manageable.
Tony Parkinson, vice president, enterprise solutions, Dell EMEA, added: “By actively forging collaboration between the HPC community, technology vendors and the UoC, we want to drive market-ready solutions by drawing on the wide-ranging skills and experience that both technology developers and end-users offer. Through our experience running the HPC centre with UoC, we’ve seen the potential to expand the centre and dive into new projects, like Data Analytics, faster with Intel.”
Gerald Grattoni, director, enterprise solutions sales, Intel EMEA, said: “There’s a rapid emergence of big-data workloads and a transition from compute bound problems to data problems. There needs to be an emphasis on data management and analytics to expand research capability.”
By being able to handle huge quantities of data in a way which is able to convert it into useful research and analytics for researchers and businesses, the Cambridge HPC Solutions Centre could help unlock vital economic potential in the UK and beyond.
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”