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April 25, 2016updated 05 Sep 2016 11:02am

How Cambridge University is connecting HPC with data analytics and an OpenStack cloud

News: Mellanox technology being used to improve interoperability.

By James Nunns

The University of Cambridge is improving its OpenStack-based scientific research cloud with technology from Mellanox.

The University will be deploying Mellanox’s End-to-End Ethernet interconnect solution including Spectrum SN2700 Ethernet switches, ConnectX-4 Lx NICs and LinkX cables for its OpenStack cloud.

By using this technology the University of Cambridge is hoping to bridge the divide between its solutions and improve the interconnected performance of the various technologies that it uses. This technology includes; High Performance Computing, high performance data analytics, web services, Infrastructure-as-a-Service, and cloud based storage models.

Dr. Paul Calleja, deputy director of research computing at the University of Cambridge said research computing covers a wide remit of technologies, the problem with this is that it is not always easy for researchers to work across multiple disciplines due to poor connectivity between the technologies.

The hope then, is that the technology from Mellanox will help to solve this problem. Calleja said: "At the University, we see High Performance as a basis for the delivery of all these services in order to drive excellence.

"Working with Mellanox adds value to the mission as their technology currently allows us to bridge the divide between traditional HPC interconnects with Mellanox Infiniband solutions and High Performance Networking with Mellanox RDMA-capable Ethernet and drive convergence."

Calleja said that the University has been proactive in investing in these kinds of technologies, while a collaborative approach with Mellanox to design, has allowed the University to develop a foundation architecture for research computing.

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The University’s use of analytics-based research has helped to fuel the development of an OpenStack based scientific cloud for research, but for the demand for instant results and answers to be met there needs to be little or no latency issues and all the different pieces of the puzzle need to communicate with each other seamlessly.

Mellanox’s technology will help to provide a high-throughput, low-latency cloud network fabric that will allow them to use offload and high acceleration capabilities such as SR-IOV, RDMA and VXLAN Offload, said the company.

In the end this deployment is all about helping different sets of technologies to communicate with each other, this will lead to greater ease of use due to lower latency.

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