New cloud, HPC services to help drive research in South Australia

New TANGO HPC and cloud services unveiled at eResearch South Australia

eResearch South Australia is preparing for the imminent retirement of its Tizard supercomputer, officially launching a high-performance computing system dubbed TANGO and preparing to unveil a new cloud infrastructure service.

The new HPC service replaces a $700,000 SGI HPC Cluster system, which eRSA rolled out in October 2012. eRSA ceased accepting new Tizard jobs yesterday, with all currently running jobs finishing up by 31 August.

TANGO is built on Dell servers and Dell’s SDN-capable Z9600-ON 100GbE switches. HPC nodes are based on Dell PE R730 Servers with Intel Xeon E5-2690 CPUs, 32GB of RAM, 200GB SSDs and Mellanox ConnectX-4 Dual Port 25GbE network adapters.

The TANGO cloud services will be provided by Dell PE R730xd servers equipped with Intel Xeon E5-2680 CPUs, 32GB of RAM, 1.6TB SSDs and 6TB conventional hard drives, and Mellanox ConnectX-4 Dual Port 25GbE network adapters.

The HPC system is designed to be scalable, initially launching with 12 Dell servers offering a total of 336 Intel Xeon E5 cores and 3TB of RAM.

The funding environment has changed over the years and is less conducive to purchasing “big lumps of iron” and large amounts of storage that sits idle while it waits to be filled up, said eRSA’s infrastructure manager, Paul Bartczak.

“We’re looking at more of a hybrid and flexible environment that we can scale up, down, sideways quite easily and provide that continuation of services driven by demand rather than ‘you must go and spend $5 million on a storage implementation.’”

“This is what we call a Dell Technologies family solution,” said Dell EMC’s ANZ HPC lead, Andrew Underwood, bringing together Dell EMC hardware and software from VMware. TANGO Research Cloud  will be based on VMware Cloud Foundation.  Dell EMC Avamar and Dell EMC Data Domain provide backup and data protection.

The TANGO services will also be made available to South Australian small and medium enterprises through the government-backed innovation precincts that are connected by the state’s Gig City program.

The Gig City program was formally launched by the state government earlier this month. It is based on the SABRENet research network, which launched in 2007 and includes 200 kilometres of fibre running to more than 160 sites.

“One of the thing from the Dell EMC perspective and a Dell Technologies perspective that we see as quite exciting about the new TANGO system is that eResearch South Australia has set out to make sure this is capable of supporting South Australian [industry],” Underwood said.

“This new TANGO system will couple eResearch South Australia’s skill and capabilities with supporting researchers with a secure platform that allows the SMEs in South Australia to get immediate, secure and extremely fast access to high-performance computing to help them innovate in a global economy. That’s something that we see as quite unique from our perspective.”

eRSA was originally a South Australian HPC computing centre launched in 2007 as a collaboration between the state’s three universities: Adelaide University, Flinders University and the University of South Australia. Initially it sat under the “administrative umbrella” of Adelaide Uni, which has historically been its largest user, Bartczak said.

“The organisation was a high-performance computing shop that helped out the physicists and mathematicians to crunch various data,” he explained.

However, the organisation’s remit has expanded over the years, and thanks to government funding eRSA became a node for the NeCTAR research cloud and a node of the Research Data Storage Infrastructure (RDSI) project.

“This really opened up our capability to offer a lot more services outside the traditional high-performance computing, which had quite a limited audience,” Bartczak said. The organisation is now an incorporated joint venture, though it is still governed by the three universities.

In addition to expanding the infrastructure services it provides, eRSA has moved in the direction of helping researchers build the solutions they need, Bartczak said, with the organisation now offering consulting services and training.

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Tags University of South AustraliaUniversity of AdelaideFlinders UniversityDell Technologieshpccloud computinghigh-performance computingSouth AustraliaDellDell EMCresearchCloud

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