By Matthew Dublin
While it seems like every week there's a new announcement about the latest HPC system installation, it’s not often that we get the backstory on how one vendor solution was chosen over another. HPCwire profiles one such rare story by following up with the University of Utah’s Brain Haymore, director of the HPC storage team at Utah's Center for High Performance Computing (CHPC), to learn about their evaluation process for competing vendors during the upgrade the center’s Updraft cluster and data storage facility.
Panasas, HP with its IBRIX system, the Dell and Terascala Lustre package, and the IBM and DDN GPFS solution, were all courting CHPC initially, so there were a lot of options, price points, and support offerings to choose from.
While Panasas provided no performance increase, Lustre did provided a three-fold increase however performance issues were hampered by “mysterious I/O errors” that affected half of the runs. In addition, the fact that the Lustre file system was about to be handed off to Oracle created some practical concerns about stability. In the end, Haymore and his colleagues had to decide between the DDN/IBM GPFS and HP’s IBRIX solution, both of which had about the same level of performance. So instead of performance or price acting as the purchasing-decision tipping point, in the end, the support model was the biggest factor. Whereas obtaining hardware from DDN and the software from IBM required chasing support from two separate vendors, HP’s solution is a unified support model.
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