StackHPC are pleased to announce along with our partner, Linomtha ICT,
a new OpenStack system at the Centre for High Performance Computing to support researchers and academics
across South Africa. StackHPC worked with Linomtha, Supermicro and Mellanox to jointly engineer the system and
support project management. The system deploys OpenStack Kayobe together with a billing
system engineered around CloudKitty & Monasca.
The text below can also be found on Linomtha's blog.
The Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC) is proud to announce
a new on-premise cloud infrastructure that has been delivered
recently under exceptional circumstances. The delivery of the system
is testament to the close collaboration CHPC has with Linomtha ICT
(SA) and their strategic technology partners StackHPC Ltd (UK),
Supermicro (SA), and Mellanox (IL), and will ensure that the CHPC
has a stable environment to continue to deliver on its mandate. The
OpenStack Production Cloud Services caters for the CHPC scientific
users executing, for example, custom workflows, embarrassingly
parallel workloads and webhosting. The OpenStack services will also
be a road-header for such HPC configuration in the future. It is
envisaged that this platform will build both the skills and operational
experience for CHPC, to develop, provision and operate a National
federated OpenStack platform, which will be linked with other
countries, that are involved in the Square Kilometre Array (SKA)
The Cloud infrastructure has been designed in such a way that the
transportation of data to and from the CHPC to the external
institutions that are connected to the NICIS network or those that
want to utilise the DIRISA long term storage can be achieved.
Linomtha, a majority black owned company comprising of an energetic
mix of business people, entrepreneurs and engineers with experience
and skills from various fields, together with CHPC, successfully
completed the installation of the OpenStack Production Cloud Service
Linomtha recognises the important role that ICT can play in terms
of economic growth, social inclusion and government efficiency. The
key individuals driving Linomtha all have extensive practical
experience in the field of ICT, working on large scale government
and private sector projects across the country and are recognized
as experts, both locally and internationally. Linomtha is a value-added
reseller of StackHPC as well as Supermicro, the key technology
partners in responding to CHPC's RFP. LinomthaICT's
sister company, LinomthaID, provided the Billing/Invoicing portal
for the solution through its VOIS platform.
The CHPC has been running a VMware virtual environment or cluster
(IT-Shop) previously, as an alternative to support scientific
projects or applications which were not best suited for High
Performance Computing Platform. Projects were mostly hosted on the
IT-Shop Cluster as web portals to support these special scientific
groups to share data-knowledge or compute their specific scientific
The IT-Shop cluster is currently over-provisioned, especially for
memory resources, due to the large demand of numerous projects
requiring high-spec virtual machines and has become an unreliable
environment, no longer able to adequately serve the users, as the
performance and available capacity has deteriorated over time.
The CHPC OpenStack Production Cloud will provide a sufficient and efficient environment to continue to support these kinds of projects from the IT-Shop. In addition, the CHPC Cloud Solution will offer the following benefits and functionalities which were not met on the current IT-Shop:
- Self-Service Portal. CHPC Cloud users will now have the ability
to deploy application on-demand with limited technical support to
promote rapid and efficient IT Service.
- Metered Service and Resource Monitoring. CHPC will now be
able to monitor resource utilization from individual users or
projects to prepare billing statement as per our cost-recovery
- Avoid Vendor Lock-In. The OpenStack solution is open source.
CHPC will Reduce-On-Cost related to proprietary software such as
the VMware vSphere Solution.
- Enable Rapid Innovations (DevOps). The CHPC Staff can
significantly reduce on development and testing periods and have
more freedom to experiment with new technology or even do customisation
to expand the capabilities of the OpenStack Cloud.
The CentOS based OpenStack Cloud is a self-service Virtual Machine
(VM) provisioning portal for CHPC Administrators where common
administrative tasks like VM creation, recoup unused resources, and
infrastructure maintenance tasks are automated and capacity analysis,
utilization, and end-user costing reports can be generated.
Through this project, CHPC administrators have been exposed to the
initial implementation of the OpenStack system and have hands on
experience of performing the various required tasks.
Linomtha together with Supermicro, Mellanox, StackHPC and LinomthaID
have jointly-engineered the CSIR OpenStack Cloud Solution. This
solution is built on Supermicro Server and Storage systems that
deliver first to market innovation and optimized for value, performance
and efficiency. Using the Supermicro TwinPro Servers to provide
320cores/640threads (2.50 - 3.90GHz) and over 3TB DDR4 2933 Memory
providing some 9GB RAM per core all in just 4U of rack space,
connected through Mellanox 100GB Ethernet Networking to Supermicro
Ultra and Supermicro
Simply Double Servers
providing a CEPH Storage cluster with over 1.5PB (1500TB) of
Mechanical Disk Storage and more than 220TB of Flash Storage.
OpenStack was deployed with OpenStack Kayobe, a tool largely developed
and maintained by StackHPC within the OpenStack Foundation. Kayobe
provides for easy management of the deployment process across all
compute, storage and networking infrastructure using a high degree
of automation through infrastructure as code. Kayobe invokes a
containerised Kolla control plane providing for easier upgrades and
maintainability. In addition to the infrastructure element, Kayobe
also deploys rating, monitoring and logging services providing
insight on resources and their use.
The integration of the invoicing engine and portal, VOIS, was
undertaken by LinomthaID who extracted the billing information of
the Openstack Usage provided by CloudKitty, and localised
and customised the invoicing to CHPC requirements.
Ensuring there was constant and clear communication during the
project, the Linomtha project team ensured daily stand-up calls,
weekly progress meetings and utilised tools such as Slack and Google
Meet - which allowed for quick turnaround times for addressing
We were impressed with the Slack communication and the shared Google
drive provided for documentation between team members, it made the
sharing of thoughts much easier resulting in solving problems quickly
A single point of contact was identified from each stakeholder
involved in the project, allowing for communication to flow to the
right people and ensuring action items were accomplished and
ultimately, meeting the challenging deadline.
One component of the project was training which initially was to
take place on-site, but due to the restraints of COVID-19, the team
improvised and the training was successfully delivered remotely,
over a five-day period. The training was deemed a great success!
The training has ensured that the CHPC Administrators have sufficient
knowledge and confidence to efficiently manage the environment.
The training was one of the best we've attended, the setup was
great, the trainer's expertise and their quick thinking or rather
well-considered answers in providing solutions to our questions was
impressive. The information gathered and shared is helping us with
our OpenStack operations and we can only grow strong from here with
our OpenStack expertise as well.
No project is without challenges and this one was no exception. One
of the lessons learnt was that the time between the initial workshop
and implementation was too compressed. It did not allow for all
team members, including technical resources, to fully understand
the finer technical detail of the project and allow them to all
Despite the challenges encountered during the project, through the
professional Linomtha Project Management deployment, milestones
were met, the deadline accomplished, quality documentation drafted,
successful training delivered and the handover to operations completed
within the required deadline and budget.
Get in touch
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