Skills shortage holds back HPC potential

Skills shortage holds back HPC potential

on Sep 17, 14 • by Chris Bubinas • with No Comments

A major skills shortage is one of the most significant factors preventing greater HPC growth...

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High performance computing is becoming increasingly important for a wide range of industries. With these solutions in place, firms are achieving a level of computational power that was previously unavailable to private and smaller-scale organizations.

Yet for all the progress made by HPC, the technology has not yet reached its full potential in the eyes of many industry observers. As Information Age contributor Ben Rossi recently pointed out, a major skills shortage is one of the most significant factors preventing greater HPC growth.

Skills needed
Rossi noted that there are many businesses that could benefit tremendously from HPC adoption, yet they do not embrace these tools simply because they lack in the in-house talent to effectively wield such technology. This hurts both the individual organizations and the HPC industry.

"It's not enough to keep building powerful supercomputers unless we have the brains," Stan Ahalt, director of a supercomputing center based at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told the news source. "Think of a supercomputer as a very fast racing engine. We need more drivers to use those engines."

Specifically, Rossi emphasized the need for application developers with expertise using multi-core architectures and application scaling. Without employees possessing these skills, organizations cannot hope to fully take advantage of HPC resources.

Encouraging expertise
Considering this state of affairs, Rossi argued that HPC vendors need to take several steps to overcome the skill gap. For one thing, they should strive to make their HPC offerings easier to understand and deploy. This process is already well underway, but there is a lot of room for further progress. The more scalable, flexible and accessible HPC vendors can make their progress, the more willing companies will be to adopt those solutions for the first time.

Additionally, Rossi pointed out that more firms are turning to HPC-on-demand as a means of embracing this technology without the need to install and maintain hardware on-premise. This greatly reduces the barrier of entry for many companies, and makes HPC more accessible to smaller organizations.

The writer also suggested that government bodies could do more to encourage the development of HPC skills and projects. While Rossi focused specifically on the United Kingdom, this is also true for United States and any other nation where HPC markets are growing. As government bodies embrace HPC tools and provide funding for HPC training in schools and universities, the applicability of these solutions expands tremendously.

Business, too, can and should do more to clear the way for HPC success within their organizations. This can take the form of a two-pronged approach. First, firms should specifically seek out personnel who possess HPC skills. By bringing these professionals on board, firms can confidently embrace HPC solutions and maximize their value. Second, organizations should provide ongoing training to staff members to ensure they can continue to make the most of their HPC investments.

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