In contemplating a move to using HPC to speed up processes in their plants, many businesses are staring at an "expert knowledge gap" that can make them feel like they are trapped at the bottom of a canyon. New Mexico, the state famous for its canyons, has recently launched a collaborative center that can give businesses a hand out of the gap and into profitability. The New Mexico Computing Applications Center(NMCAC)was launched on September 19, 2008 and I had a chance this afternoon to sit down with Dr. Thomas Bowles, Chairman of the Board of Directors for the center & Science Advisor to Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, and Dr. Lorie Liebrock, the education director at the center to learn more about the services they are offering to manufacturers and other businesses.
The NMCAC is a nonprofit organization which owns its own hardware, Encanto, the 7th fastest computer in the world according to the Top 500 list in June 2008. They provide access to the experts at the 5 founding organizations:University of New Mexico,New Mexico State University,New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology,Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories and to their recently announced partner, Darkstrand. With this combination of resources, the NMCAC sees itself as an HPC Integrator. Although Dr. Bowles credits the Blue Collar Computing Initiative at OSC as a model for the center at its conception 2 years ago, the services are slightly different. NMCAC is giving primary focus to its integrator role, rather than providing HPC SaaS. Just as you might hire an integrator to assist with evaluation, planning and implementation of a new MOM system on the plant floor; you now have access to an HPC integrator who can assist with up front analysis, planning and implementation of your HPC projects.
Since the NMCAC is partially funded by the State of New Mexico, they give priority to businesses who either directly or indirectly can show positive impact to economic development in the state. If you are a business or a start up located in New Mexico, they are also working with the local Economic Development Boards to assist with funding and maybe get your first consult with no out of pocket expense.
What advantage does an HPC integrator bring to a business? If you are contemplating moving legacy systems to an HPC platform, they can assist with the upfront consult to evaluate if this has ROI. If you are developing a new algorithm, or are investigating recently developed algorithms for new processes, you can have access to some of the best computing brains in New Mexico to assist. If you have a one time need for modeling or simulation to take a product from late stage R&D to production, they may already have the software and training needed to complete this, rather than your company making that infrastructure and personnel investment.
What remains unknown at this early stage is how affordable the pricing is for out of state businesses, and what the turn around time for problem solving will be. We are certainly excited about the possibilities that this new model presents and are hoping to see other "HPC Integrators" popping up in the ecosystem soon. We will be following their growth and experiences, but if you have a chance to work with the NMCAC, be sure to leave a comment below and share your experiences with us.