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25.06.2012

Trends: HPC, Programming, and Security

IBM Corp. regained the top supercomputer ranking with the installation of its "Sequoia" BlueGene/Q beast at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). According to job listing trends per Indeed.com, PHP and Python adoption is exploding. A recent Symantec Corp. study finds the expanded use of online file sharing is increasing the security risk exposures to small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). 

Focal Points:

  • IBM took back the top slot in the supercomputer rankings with the LLNL Sequoia installation, which delivered 16.32 petaflops of sustained performance running across the 1.57 million PowerPC cores inside the box during a Linpack benchmark run. Sequoia has a peak theoretical performance of 20.1 petaflops. To deliver the 16.32 petaflops IBM claims it only consumes 7.89 megawatts. The IBM supercomputer shifted the K massively parallel Sparc64-VIIIfx machine built by Fujitsu Group for the Japanese government down to number two. The Fujitsu Sparc machine had a sustained Linpack performance of 10.5 petaflops against a peak of 11.3 petaflops but it consumed 12.7 megawatts. Sequoia is 2.5 times as energy efficient as the Sparc K. IBM now has five of the top 10 high performance computing (HPC) engines. 372 of the processors, or 74.4 per cent of those on the list, are based on Intel Corp. Xeon or Itanium processors, down slightly from the 384 HPC machines on the November list. The latest Top 500 list has 58 Power-based processors, up from 49 six months ago. There are also 63 clusters based on Advanced Micro Devices Inc.'s (AMD's) Opteron processors, unchanged from last year.
  • According to Indeed.com companies are embracing the Web to reach customers and employees and are therefore turning to the programming languages and technology stacks made popular by companies such as Facebook Inc. and Google Inc.   Current programming languages such as C++, Java, and .NET will still be the primary languages for enterprise applications but the scripting languages will dominate the Internet. The below chart produced by Indeed.com shows the variances in job growth rates. Aside from the Internet movement another key reason for the adoption of PHP and Python is the movement to open source. Python appears to be a run-away winner because of its design elegance and framework simplicity. The next most used languages are Java and then .NET.
  • Symantec released the findings of its 2011 SMB File Sharing Survey of more than 1,325 SMB organizations this week. The survey results found SMB employees are increasingly adopting unmanaged, personal-use online file sharing solutions without permission from IT. These behaviors are making organizations vulnerable to potential data losses and security threats. A Symantec executive observed that a staggering 71 percent of small businesses that suffer from a cyber attack never recover. 74 percent of respondents who adopted online file sharing did so to improve their productivity. Respondents also cited risk concerns included sharing confidential information using unapproved solutions (44 percent), malware (44 percent), loss of confidential or proprietary information (43 percent), breach of confidential information (41 percent), embarrassment or damage to brand/reputation (37 percent), and violating regulatory rules (34 percent). However, only half of the respondents stated they would go to IT for help with sharing large files while only one-third expressed interest in utilizing an already existing IT solution. 14 percent now report the average shared file size is greater than 1 GB. Additionally, more and more people are remote. The survey found that about 37 percent of SMB organizations will have employees working remotely, up from 32 percent today.

 

Experton Group POV: IBM views the HPC market as only one component of the technical computing markets that it is aggressively pursuing. It has almost half of the HPC market but is in second or third place in the other sectors. With Power Systems once again proving their value at the high end, IBM will seek to differentiate itself with both Power and Intel systems in the other markets where Dell Inc. and Hewlett Packard Co. (HP) are the top competitors. Since IT executives can expect IBM and others to market and sell their solutions to end users directly as well as to IT, IT executives should be communicating with peers as to why IT should be involved in the decision-making process. The shift to PHP and Python will continue to gain steam as companies find these solutions are economical and easier to develop and maintain. This may cause religious wars in some organizations. IT executives need to keep staff focused on the business value of solutions and not on protecting legacy domains and skills. While the Symantec study only looked at the SMB organizations, there is also significant unauthorized use of file sharing amongst large enterprises as well. This is not just an IT issue…it is a corporate policy and governance issue and should be address from both angles. IT executives need to take a leadership role in driving awareness of the problem, gaining buy-in from other executives, providing internal solutions, and communicating the challenge and solutions to employees.