Inside Extreme Scale Tech|Friday, December 26, 2014
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New HPC Computing Center Offers Opportunity for Digital Manufacturers 

The Center for Cloud and Autonomic Computing at Texas Tech University (CAC@TTU) is looking for organizations to participate in its Industry Advisory Board. This is an ideal opportunity for companies in the digital manufacturing sector to have a say in the development of standards, security protocols and other priorities for high performance computing leveraging cloud (HPC cloud) technology.

A planning meeting for the new CAC@TTU will be held for interested organizations on the Texas Tech campus in Lubbock on May 29-30, 2013. It is vital that major end user groups of HPC cloud technology – such as digital manufacturers – are represented so that issues of particular relevance to their industry can be addressed.

The Origins of CAC@TTU

The National Science Foundation (NSF) promotes the advancement of science and technology in many ways, most notably through the funding of research projects. A major portion of this taxpayer-funded research has historically involved academic and governmental organizations (e.g., national labs). Recently, however, NSF has adopted strategies to solicit strategic involvement by industry in NSF-funded efforts.

Acknowledging that some private-sector companies have little or no interaction with academia or government when it comes to the development of new technologies, NSF has decided to elevate cyber- and computer infrastructure as an area where industry involvement should be promoted. As a result, NSF requested proposals to create a series of industry/university/government cooperative research centers, each with a unique cyber-infrastructure focus.

Texas Tech is home to one of the five selected centers, CAC@TTU, and its focus is HPC cloud and advanced distributed computing infrastructure. The Center has stated that it “wants to help its industry members accelerate adoption of cloud methods, standards and services…while minimizing risk factors such as information security, privacy, compliance and regulation.”

CAC@TTU has identified three critical goals for itself:

  • Foster industry-academia-government partnerships on topics directly related to emerging cloud standards;

  • Develop coordinated efforts to organize, classify, and develop reference implementations to showcase benefits of cloud computing; and

  • Create a trained workforce with expertise in advanced distributed and autonomic computing.

The CAC@TTU interest areas include cloud security and standards, machine learning, data mining, parallel and distributed computing, business intelligence, big data and general cloud application development. It should be noted, however, that other issues beyond these will be addressed if raised by the Industry Advisory Board. NSF has specified that academia is primarily the home to these centers, and members of the participating industries will serve as the drivers behind various initiatives.

In other words, the input from industry will have maximal weight in determining the direction of these centers.

Next — The Digital Manufacturing Opportunity >

The Digital Manufacturing Opportunity

Although most DMR readers have certainly heard of Texas Tech, the university may not spring to mind as a major player in the HPC domain. Given its location in Lubbock, Texas, however, Texas Tech has close ties with the oil and gas industry, actively engaging in numerous energy-related research and academic programs. HPC plays an enormous role in these activities because the oil and gas industry is one of the largest consumers (and early adopters) of supercomputing technology.

The link to digital manufacturing is the petroleum industry’s supply chain. The exploration, extraction and processing of hydrocarbons have become so extraordinarily complex and extensive that manufacturing is a critical component of the equally enormous supply chain. Increasingly, the petroleum industry relies on digital manufacturing to build the many pieces of equipment needed to extract hydrocarbons from anywhere and under any condition on the globe.

It’s a safe bet that Texas Tech’s relationship to the petroleum business will attract companies from that sector to participate in the CAC@TTU. Needless to say, HPC standards and security topics that will impact digital manufacturing will be brought up. Representatives from digital manufacturing businesses must be there to speak for their industry.

Keep in mind that many other industries will also be participating. The automotive, aerospace, entertainment, medical, simulation and many other industries are prolific users of HPC cloud technology and will likely be involved as well. With so many potential participants, it becomes even more critical for digital manufacturing to be there and make sure its interests are represented.

Participants should be ready to raise their concerns over barriers that stand in the way of greater implementation of HPC cloud solutions in their digital manufacturing businesses. Only by presenting these issues can solutions be devised to their benefit.

Some topics to consider addressing are the following.

  • What technical, accessibility or security roadblocks have kept your digital manufacturing firm from consuming HPC technology?

  • What standards would make it easier or less expensive to engage HPC services?

  • How can the HPC cloud industry attract digital manufacturers as clients?

  • What does the 21st Century workforce need to understand about digital manufacturing to facilitate introduction of HPC into small- and medium-sized manufacturers?

  • How can “seasoned” manufacturing personnel be trained in HPC technologies?

  • What should the HPC cloud curriculum at our higher learning institutions include?

There is a cost to join the Industry Advisory Board. Each participating organization will be involved in creating the CAC@TTU industry-focused agenda and will be first in line to use the extensive HPC resources that will be available at its center and throughout the other centers. For more information on the planning meeting, visit http://cac.hpcc.ttu.edu/~cac/ . I will be attending.

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