Would you take operational/marketing advice from someone without such experience?

We are starting a process to get some additional capital into the company, apart from operations and profit generation. That is going well.
One of the aspects of this are discussions with people over our strategy and other elements of the business.
Some of these conversations are amusing. Some are annoying. Few are really helpful or insightful. That is, a great deal of time and effort is expended, with little return back for expending the time and effort.
Yeah the cost-benefit analysis isn’t well balanced here.
So part of the conversations turn to sales process, pricing, … . And this is where things get interesting, and often demonstrate the clear lack of sales and marketing experience of those giving you advice.

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Reducing risk: avoiding the bricking phenomenon

Something happened this week in a storage cluster we set up for a customer. You’ll hear more about the storage cluster at SC09, but thats not what this is about.
This is about risk, and how to reduce it.
Risk is a complex thing to define in practice, but there are several … well … simple ways you can indicate relative risk.
A motherboard and power supply blew in one of our nodes. This happens, parts fail. We replaced them, and the node is back up and working.
Ok, so what does this say about risk?

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Cloud is over-hyped? No … you don't say …

There are some real nuggets of value in “the cloud”&tm; but as with “The Grid”&TM; there is a serious land grab underway, where everything is … er … cloudy.
Yeah, thats a good phrase … cloudy. Though nebulous fits as well. And of course, clouds being water vapor … and often ice crystals …
I couldn’t resist, my apologies.
More seriously, some analyst houses are noticing the massive over-hyping.

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IT storage … why its not HPC storage, and shouldn't be used where you need HPC storage

In a previous article, I railed on the concept of IT designing clusters. I pointed out many flaws we have seen when this happens.
I’d like to do the same thing with storage.
This will be brief.
Recently had a customer for our consulting ask us with deep incredulity, how one of our older 24 drive 7200 RPM SATA drive units could so thoroughly demolish (on benchmark testing) a brand new 24 drive 15kRPM SAS drive unit.
It all comes down to design. A 15kRPM drive doesn’t guarantee fast IO. Nor does SAS. I could keep going, but the salient point is that this always comes down to IO design. A great IO design will almost always demolish a crappy IO design.
This is what happened here.

Read moreIT storage … why its not HPC storage, and shouldn't be used where you need HPC storage

Disruption in HPC (and storage)

On InsideHPC, John West has an interesting story on disruption in HPC markets, and predictions on success or failure of a business. There are some interesting tidbits evident throughout the article.

For example, while it???s not the only strategy that works, in prescribed circumstances the highest probability approach is for a new company to start with the lowest performing, lowest cost solution in the market. In other words, even if HPC is your end goal, the fastest path can be to start at the low end, not the high end. This defies most thinking.

This made me smile.

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The tipping point for APUs

This news item on InsideHPC made me smile.
In short, the HPC application vendors do see the value in decreasing the cost of hardware for their HPC users. It keeps more money available for end users to purchase licenses, even in the face of declining budgets. There are other problems, such as the software license cost now being substantially higher than the cost of the hardware to run the HPC codes on, but that is another problem.
So if you have a 128 core cluster that is about as fast on your code as a muscular desktop with 3-4 GPU cards, which is more expensive to procure and run over time?
I am not talking about “leadership class” HPC, where you have 10000 cores available to your jobs. I am talking about the emerging everyday HPC. This is the computationally intensive analyses being done on the aforementioned muscular desktops and smaller deskside clusters.

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