The Times, They Are A-Changin’

In this special blog post, Kim and Brian Whitaker from ZB Content teamed. Enjoy!

Coming off ISC16 and preparing for SC16, those of us in HPC take stock of our industry. After the rush to release something meaningful at ISC, it’s time to take a breath and measure the progress everyone around us has made in the past year – since SC15, leading up to ISC16, and onto SC16.

The industry is always changing, but this year, it seems like the rate of change has accelerated. HPC is going beyond traditional workloads, use cases, and even technologies. HPC in the cloud is a real thing. HPC + Big Data is maturing. Machine learning, deep learning, and artificial intelligence are beginning to intersect HPC, with other cutting-edge ideas hiding in the wings. More vendors are involved, more innovation is rising to the top, and more organizations see ISC High Performance as the perfect place for research and learning. Next week will be an exciting week to be part of HPC.

Consortiums are big contributors to accelerating change this year. They’re popping up everywhere, spanning regions, states, and even cities. Cross-consortium collaboration helps to drive real shifts in the industry, and we’re even seeing vendor specific consortiums like Dell HPC Community and HP-CAST play an increasingly important role.

ISC hosted 147 exhibitors this year across hardware, software, and services, and many have more to say than just marketecture – they’re bringing real opportunities and capabilities to market. Companies who once left ISC returned, including NVIDIA and NetApp, because HPC and HPC-like technologies are becoming a critical facet of IT across all verticals and sectors.

SC16 has over 330 exhibitors (thus far – still time to be an exhibitor!) and will host over 10,000 attendees. If your product touches HPC, you should be at SCFor an enterprise vendor, if you’re not participating, and not displaying real insights into HPC, you’re impeding your credibility with customers everywhere.

Alliances are another change agent this year. So many have cropped up, most of them bringing an open source perspective to the world of HPC. Alliances such as OpenPOWER, Open HPC, HPC Advisory Council, Open MPARB, and the OpenCompute Project are doing the HPC community a real service. By helping everyone unite around ideas and working to drive – and incorporate – industry standards into groundbreaking work, they’ve brought huge buzz to HPC, an idea that just a few years ago was a little off the beaten track.

And there’s an emerging technology offering interesting possibilities. Is it possible for composable infrastructure to begin influencing – and redefining – HPC design? Composable infrastructure, a framework whose physical compute, storage, and network fabric resources are treated as services, is in its early days right now, with HPE Synergy and Intel Rack Scale Architectures being the only examples worth noting. But the mix of infrastructure as code coupled with silicon photonic interconnects could bring HPC efficiency to an entirely new level.

Imagine the possibilities — you have a Big Data workload that’s beginning to crunch a data set. Suddenly, via an open API, it says “I’m about to get busy. I need 64 cores, 100Gb of bandwidth, and 2 terabytes of storage” – and the hardware answers, instantly, from a pool of disaggregated hardware that’s constantly available for other workloads. Most people are talking about composable for hyperscale deployments, but in a couple of years we may be seeing composable as a mainstream approach for HPC. Would that blow up expectations and shake up economics? Are the large vendors thinking along those lines? Is the future of hyperscale beginning to emerge?

Are you thinking of exhibiting at SC16 (there is still time to be an exhibitor)? Have you committed to exhibiting and wondering how to make the most of your experience? Email me! Go with a plan – this will improve your experience, awareness, and leads. Trust me – I speak from experience and past work with multiple clients.

Brian Whitaker is the founder and president of Zettabyte Content, which specializes in marketing for complex technologies. He’s worked with a wide range of companies, including Dell, VMware, the OpenStack Foundation, and IBM. He can be reached at


About the author: Kim McMahon has performed sales and marketing for more years than she cares to count. She writes frequently on marketing, life, the world and how they sometimes all come together.