In mid-February 2016, in a short blog announcement Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced the acquisition of Italy-based Nice, a high-performance computing (HPC) software and services provider. The company says the Nice brand and team will remain intact. The organization will continue to develop and support its EnginFrame HPC job submission and monitoring portal, as well as its desktop cloud visualization (DCV) products for remote access to 2D/3D applications over a standard network.
AWS gets ready to piggyback on the long-term convergence of HPC and enterprise IT
Nice has an impressive customer base of large organizations in a variety of vertical markets, including academia, aerospace, automotive, financial services, and life sciences. However, its appeal lies less in its customer base (and its EMEA location) than in its ability to help AWS piggyback on the long-term convergence of HPC and enterprise IT in a cloud context. It is likely that many Nice customers already use public cloud services in general and AWS ones in particular.
Most HPC workloads are currently highly customized and on-premise. However, they are becoming more standardized, and there is growing demand from users to move them to public clouds such as the one provided by AWS. Nice itself moved its DCV technology to AWS in mid-2014 and its EnginFrame portal already reaches out to AWS resources. It will take time for custom HPC workloads and environments to be moved by enterprises, but Nice has the skills it takes to help them do so. In doing so it will leverage existing AWS technologies such as spot instances and graphical CPU-based virtual machines. Another trend fueling the cloud/HPC convergence is big data, which AWS is keen on, and uses HPC-like designs and technologies.
Nice technology will also help AWS improve its offering at a variety of levels. For example, DVC can help expand the audience for AWS’s desktop-as-a-service offering from business users to engineers. It can help AWS optimize performance, either directly or via a so-called “AWS Trusted Advisor” because HPC systems are designed to maximize utilization. AWS Trusted Advisor provides best practices in four categories: cost optimization, security, fault tolerance, and performance improvement. In September 2015, for example, Nice pointed out in a press release that it had three HPCWire Readers Choice Awards nominations. The first two were for its EnginFrame and DVC technologies. The third was focused on a project by partner ANSYS which had teamed up with Nice and AWS to created a solution for remote visualization on the ANSYS Enterprise Cloud. This solution relies on DVC technology to deliver three to 10 times bandwidth savings and improved network latency tolerance.
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Laurent Lachal, Senior Analyst, Infrastructure Solutions