StackHPC at Supercomputing 2016

This week at Supercomputing 2016 there has been a good deal of activity around OpenStack. Working Group co-chair Blair Bethwaite put together a pick of the schedule's OpenStack highlights, and used the event to launch the book edition of Stig's OpenStack/HPC studies, featuring user stories and case studies from many prominent WG members.

OpenStack/HPC book cover

In testament to the momentum building behind using OpenStack for research computing, the Scientific OpenStack BoF packed out the room, and was even bigger than the Scientific OpenStack BoF at the OpenStack summit in Barcelona. Topics discussed included the trade-offs between virtualisation and containers for scientific use cases, and different strategies for finding performance on Scientific OpenStack clouds.

Scientific OpenStack BoF crowd

One interesting observation came from a show of hands on who in the room was already using OpenStack - it turned out to be no more than a significant minority. OpenStack already feels like it has arrived with a bang in HPC, but there's substantially more interest out there, and the clear implication is that even greater things are yet to come.

Earlier in the day, the Indiana University booth hosted a series of lightning talks, including from Stig and several Scientific WG members. Blair Bethwaite gave an excellent and informative talk on the recent studies he has done at Monash University on the overhead of virtualisation.

OpenStack lightning talks

OpenStack's presence at the SC2016 conference was wrapped up with a panel session featuring a great set of luminaries from the melting pot of OpenStack and research computing:

  • Blair Bethwaite and Steve Quenette from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia

  • Jonathan Mills from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

  • Kate Keahey from University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory

  • Mike Lowe from Indiana University

  • Robert Budden from Pittsburgh Supercomputer Center

    OpenStack HPC panel session

    Photo with thanks to Chris Hoge, OpenStack Foundation

Stig took the chair as moderator. With such a great panel it's no surprise that many interesting points came up from the discussion, including OpenStack's true capabilities for HPC, and the level of investment in (but the ultimate value of) self-supported OpenStack. There were also some insightful comments on a wishlist for future OpenStack development.

Finally, we ended the conference with a WG dinner out, confirming the trend that when it comes to socials, the Scientific WG is the team to beat!

The OpenStack Foundation has also made a splash this week with the launch of the Scientific OpenStack landing page, which highlights the contributions of the Scientific Working Group (including a free digital download of the OpenStack/HPC book). The Scientific Openstack landing page was also promoted as the masthead banner graphic for the home page. What an accolade!