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Cray adds container-based virtualization to its core system

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November 18, 2015

Lately, the IT industry appears to be getting more open with Docker, and now that includes Cray, which today announced the addition of container-based virtualization to its core software stack.

The high-end computer and server builder is integrating the technology first to Cray XC customers and next year, to Cray S-400, Cray-XE and Cray-XK systems.

This integration will help user's productivity, chief strategy officer Barry Bolding said today at SC-15 in Austin, Texas.

Until now, Cray typically stripped out performance-dragging software libraries such as Python and 'R' from very high-end systems to help scalability.

But with Docker, enterprise customers can run an entire software stack when required without interfering with the scalability of the Cray machine, added Bolding.

Cray has one prominent customer that doubles up as a huge Docker enthusiast-- the United States National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), which intends to use Docker for all its Cray workloads, according to Bolding.

NERSC engineers have been very busy lately, working closely with Cray on a project aptly code-named “Shifter” in an effort to extend Docker capabilities to HPC environments.

Let's have a quote from Shane Canon, project engineer for advanced systems technology at NERSC, who says that these capabilities on HPC platforms will-- "Lower the barriers for many workloads and will boost productivity. Containers can also help with the process of science itself, since it can ease reproducibility and simplify sharing.”

Cray's SC-15 announcements are mostly about the software, however. Yesterday it announced its support for OpenHPC, a new initiative that Bolding describes are giving some semblance of order to the HPC stack, but still and only on the software side.

However, Cray also had a couple of sales wins to parade-– an XC-40 installation at the University of Warsaw, and a Cray CS-400 cluster at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany, which features the company’s first Intel Omni-Path shipment, Bolding added.

Source: Cray Computer Inc.

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