Thursday, July 7, 2011

Opinion: A bad strategy for i2basque

Today we have known that i2Basque academic computing centre is giving away 20% of its computing power just for joining the spanish supercomputing network.

I suggested -me personally- that this was not the right way to go a few months back. Why ? because it is adopting the old-fashion supercomputing scheme of submit-application, four months to run and a fill out the forms again. Ah! and cite us in your paper (?). A bunch of senseless paperwork for academics who want to do research not paperwork.

I am sorry to say, serious researchers need more than 4 months. Just compiling on a new architecture is a nightmare -it is not the same ppc than intel than bluegene. Accounting for compute hours will never be precise. And having a system fragmented to bring some users from one site to another, where the support teams are not close to them is another huge mistake. Users want to be close to the technicians, visit them, see them interact as much as possible. They dont want to travel hours to bring their data, or work with a guy who is help them compile. That does not work, it is not efficient. But it is politically correct as this adds up to the petaflops that somebody claims to manage. False. It only creates a 'network' of scientists wasting money on trains, planes and buses and hotels. Great.

There is an obvious reason to this. The previous team who managed i2basque has been politically rebuilt in order to join a strategy which is not theirs. That cluster, the one they are going to split, is 95% full already, and that only using it for our own existing projects. The politics who decided that i2basque was going to be part of that network they do it just to show off, but it probably does not take into account the users. Unfortunately the new i2basque is being out-computed to favour other alternatives external to our scientists. People who do not want a real grid and free to compete network. Hey but that is the old supercomputing lobby.

Hopefully a new local government will change things when the elections come.

Disclaimer: This just represents my opinion and nobody else's. I am not linked to any of these organizations.

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