Q&A: Roger Goudarzi, PEER1 Hosting

The 3DS, rich graphics and complex designs are the latest additions to a small but growing set of products in tech, and part of a much larger and rising trend in entertainment. A technology once limited to movie theatres, products with 3D capabilities, rich graphics and complex design are being brought to the Cloud. As consumers constantly search for more immersive experiences, entertainment providers are responding in a big way. As technology changes it creates a challenge and creates more stress from an IT infrastructure standpoint. The role of hosting companies has to change to remain competitive in this new IT landscape. We spoke to Roger Gazaudi, PEER1 Hosting, who understands that modern hosting providers must look for ways to offer high-performance processing of complex applications.

Tell us about your relationship with PEER1 Hosting.
I’m a strategic partner to PEER1 Hosting. I was a key player in putting together the company’s GPU/HPC offerings with nVidia and Mental Images.

What is graphics processing unit (GPU) Cloud technology and what is PEER1 Hosting’s roll in this space?
GPUs are specialised high performance processors. These devices have high power consumption requirements and in the past there has been no hosting company hosting these devices in mass for general purpose use. PEER1 Hosting is the first major hosting company in the world to have started to host these devices for pay as you go as well as dedicated hosting.

How is hosted Supercomputing Cloud and High Performance Computing different from GPU?
In order for your applications to make use of the GPU you have to use special libraries to leverage the power of the GPU. Essentially your application has to be written to use and leverage CUDA. Super or High performance computing refers to large volumes of processing power and this can be achieved by running many CPUs to perform the same job.

Supercomputing, specifically High Performance Computing (HPC), enables parallel computation for processing of large volumes of quantitative data very quickly. Businesses in financial services, insurance, banking industries where statistical analysis and modelling is business critical, require burst supercomputing to minimise processing time of complex calculations from days to hours to deliver market insight to the business as quickly as possible.

Fewer GPUs are likely to get the same job done faster than a much larger number of CPUs would, but you need to have your program take advantage of capabilities of the GPU and this requires customer GPU programming. Interactive graphics, CAD/CAM, 3D modelling and Rendering are examples of GPU use in the design, gaming, architectural, film, broadcast and educational market place delivering photorealistic applications over the Web and visualisation of 3D scenes with remarkable realism.

What benefits does this offer the channel?
Providing GPU hosting opens the possibility for the PEER1 Hosting channel to host GPU-related applications in a fully managed environment. Previously this would have only been possible if the customer was prepared to absorb the capital expenditure of purchasing GPUs and hosting them in a Dedicated Co location facility. PEER1 Hosting is also working with partners to address the differing needs of niche markets in order to deliver a total solution to the end user. The channel can focus on providing software or services knowing that hosted systems and supporting infrastructure is in safe hands.

How does PEER1 Hosting’s partnership with bluegfx affect its resellers?
Bluegfx is a platinum partner with PEER1 Hosting, which is the highest level of partnership offered. Our companies are working in a collaborative manner to address the needs of the games, design, architectural, film, broadcast and education industries. The relationship encompasses all levels and functions within our organisations and is based on providing both technologically innovative and future proof solutions with a single-minded focus on delivering a service level and support infrastructure that is second to none. The hosted GPU from PEER 1 Hosting offers a unique, cost-effective solution that will have significant benefit for customers in these niche areas.

What other industries can benefit from Supercomputing?
These supercomputing opportunities have been the domain of larger companies in the media, financial, pharma and energy industries. With on demand supercomputing smaller companies can innovate and provide services that otherwise would not have been possible. We have already enabled some smaller start-ups to bring their products to market where this would have been cost prohibitive before.

Cortexica Vision Systems, pioneers in bio-inspired image recognition and the creators of WINEfindr, is a prime example of an academic spin-off incubation company that is supporting large retail outlets. Hosted and serviced by PEER 1 Hosting’s Host My App team, WINEfindr allows users to photograph a wine label and receive full price comparison information straight to a mobile handset. The service, made possible by a bio-inspired vision system, recognises images using principles derived from the human Visual Cortex. The pioneering technology built by Cortexica is borne from 6 years prior research at Imperial College London.

What does 2011 hold for the Supercomputing? Is this the year that it really takes off or will it just be hot air?
For certain this will be the year where this type of processing becomes available to the masses. We already know that GPU and generally dedicated high end processor computing is in demand in certain areas, with the barrier to entry to this type of computing going down, there will certainly be a lot more activity in this area. To determine if it has taken off or it has been hot air is a matter of definition. One can argue that this type of computing has already taken off since energy companies regularly use large volumes of GPUs in dedicated farms simulating reservoir depletion to leak and safety analysis, while the media and movie industries today release major movies that are entirely rendered.

What are the main benefits that outsourcing GPU can provide?
It reduces the cost of entering the field enabling new entrants to both new and existing markets. Businesses can utilise many hundreds of GPUs where they would have at most been able to afford a few dozen and therefore many tasks will be completed faster and more efficiently. Speed can provide a major competitive advantage for example in analysing data in the oil and gas business and within the finance industry. It also allows for the best equipment to be available without the need to worry about amortisation costs. Customers don’t need to worry about heat output, data centre space or the rest of the systems infrastructure. PEER1 Hosting provides a cost effective fully managed service freeing up a company’s IT staff to focus on competitive advantage and adding value to the business.

Which industries and sectors are best placed to benefit from developments in Supercomputing and why?
Media, financial services, energy, pharma, biomed automotive and scientific computing, as these sectors require fast processing of large volumes of data.

What do businesses perceive as the main drawbacks to using Cloud computing for outsourcing, and how can they overcome these hurdles?
Security and cost. With regards to Supercomputing and HPC we are focused on providing dedicated hardware in an on demand business model so that we can address customers security concerns. We do not share equipment for customers and ensure that each customer gets access to their own hardware during a project lifecycle. For customers that have long running projects or are prepared to partner with us we provide aggressive pricing models to help them grow their business and avoid the inevitable increased costs associated with an on demand model.

Christian Harris is editor and publisher of BCW. Christian has over 20 years' publishing experience and in that time has contributed to most major IT magazines and Web sites in the UK. He launched BCW in 2009 as he felt there was a need for honest and personal commentary on a wide range of business computing issues. Christian has a BA (Hons) in Publishing from the London College of Communication.