Lenovo looks to bring HPC to new customers with TruScale HPC as-a-Service

Lenovo’s new HPC service is designed to deal with specific problems of HPC usage patterns other as-a-service solutions do not address, and to use channel partners to drive it to both traditional big iron HPC users and much smaller ones who use HPC workloads, but don’t think of themselves as HPC customers.

Scott Tease, Vice President and General Manager of HPC at Lenovo

Today, at their Winterstock 22 event focused around Lenovo HPC [High Performance Computing] and AI solutions, Lenovo is unveiling their Lenovo TruScale High Performance Computing as-a-Service (HPCaaS) It provides the power of supercomputing through a cloud-like experience but in an on-prem environment. In addition, while it will be targeted at traditional HPC users to give them additional capacity, it will also be aimed at smaller ones who have HPC workloads, but who have never thought of themselves as HPC companies. Lenovo expects that this will significantly expand the addressable market for HPC.

“Almost all of our competition has announced an as-a-service offering, but these  are aimed at enterprise users with high variability in utilization,” said Scott Tease, Vice President and General Manager of HPC at Lenovo. “This is not the usage pattern in HPC. They use 90% of capacity every day, and they will do more if you provide additional capacity. So we knew we were not solving a traditional problem.”

Tease said that Lenovo breaks the value proposition of HPCaaS down for two groups, traditional big iron users, and smaller users who don’t even identity as HPC customers.

“We can show larger customers how they can pre-provision racks right next to the HPC cluster and charge it to an OPEX model, to grow into the gear as needed,” Tease said. “Once you get an HPC cluster running, it will be at high utilizations all the time, and they can use SaaS offerings to grow more quickly, because it’s a nearly insatiable demand. Creating a multi-tier world around a capex service cluster with TruScale helps you grow your capability, and where you have supply chain issues with a customer on site with racks of resources, this helps you gain ground over those that need to do procurement. For the smaller user that doesn’t have the big iron, we can do the same thing on their prem next to their data and can even manage it for them. It’s the same kind of concept.”

Tease emphasized that while their offering has been designed to be cloud-like, it is not a cloud solution.

“When HPC customers get started in the cloud, once they go into full production, they find the costs add up very quickly paying for instancing,” he said. “For HPC, testing cloud is a great way to get started, but for production it is expensive. Some jobs lend themselves very easily to a cloud, but ones that have to move a lot of data take time to get it there, and it’s expensive to get back. So we built our model out of the cloud. You get the same economics of the cloud, but on- prem, in a way that maintains their existing economics. What we are trying to do is showcase a different way to grow capability.”

The smaller size of today’s gear also advances the on-prem case.

“It used to take us a data centre full of racks to do what we can do now in half a rack,” Tease said. “You can have a top supercomputer in less than a rack of gear. This appeals to both large and small organizations, many of the latter being the ones who use HPC as a tool, but don’t identify as an HPC user. I’m interested to talk to them about this.”

Tease sees Lenovo channel partners as critical in selling HPCaaS.

“SIs are a good candidate, but a broader network of business partners will take this whole story out to our customers,” he said. “There are partners great at helping partners migrate to Citrix as VDI. With this, we can put them on the same kind of contract. They see the benefit of the approach, can add their value on top of that and for the customer, it’s one offering. So that business partner channel will be critical, especially for companies who don’t see themselves as HPC users. We are really excited about what the partner channel can do for us.”

“Our goal is to bring HPC to new people who didn’t see HPC in their realm – to take it from Exascale to Every Scale, and for big users, to change the way that they grow,” Tease concluded.