Cloud computing is (well… for quite some time now) the new buzz word. All the different vendors try to teach us what cloud computing is and why it is so good for us and every day you can find 10 different conferences on cloud computing… I never saw so many different explanations to a single term. Some define cloud computing as utility computing, others as service computing or grid computing or computing by the hour. I prefer to call it “stop wasting my time”… ;-)
The concept of a shared platform is not new, definitely not in the HPC world. My systems are being shared by many users where each of them runs different jobs, different applications and consume the agreed allocated compute power. It is true that my preference is to use a single operating system, but I can easily provision my system to support different flavors if needed. I don’t need to provision by the core, and doing it by the server is good enough. I don’t need to face the issues of memory access starvation, security, management of my data, and no less important the reduction in performance due to the extra unneeded software layers. We can probably define such systems as physical “cloud” HPC systems.
There are some interesting experiments around concepts of virtualized clouds for HPC, but I have not heard much from these experiments. Two of them are at Berkeley and Argonne. The main concept there is to ease the cluster management. Virtualization might be a solution for some of the future reliability issues, but it will be needed to done differently than today. Well… talking on another buzz word … :-)