|By Eric Pitcher||
|August 31, 2004 12:00 AM EDT||
Since its beginning in 1982, Orbital Sciences has become a pioneer in developing smaller rockets and satellite systems for such diverse purposes as intercepting hostile missiles launched against the U.S. or launching satellites for better cellular phone reception. With a range of space and satellite systems, plus the added responsibility of supporting virtually all of the country's major missile defense programs, Orbital relies on massive amounts of computing power to continually optimize and simulate launch vehicles for reliability and accuracy.
Orbital's Challenge: Fast and Reliable CFDOrbital, like many organizations in the aerospace industry, depends on computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to predict how rockets and satellites will perform in various environments. CFD works by turning the region of flow into discrete volumes, generally cube-like cells. The governing fluid equations are then used to set up a large matrix, which can be solved using a high-performance computer system. Orbital relies on CFD software from Fluent Inc. to simulate many aspects of the motion of fluid within or around Orbital's launch vehicles.
Orbital's existing computer system was continually bogged down and unable to produce fast, accurate simulations. As a result, there was a significant slowdown when arriving at solutions for CFD problems over 1 million cells. Orbital engineers were limited in the number and variety of CFD problems they could process. To help meet deadlines, Orbital often had to outsource smaller simulation problems, which could cost up to $50,000 per job and $300,000 annually.
"In the case where a larger problem was deemed mission-critical, there invariably was a need to justify the cost of outsourcing smaller problems that had to be completed, including projected payback on the outsourced engineering work," said Richard Straka, vice president and chief engineer of Orbital's Launch Systems Group (LSG). "Ultimately these justification efforts pulled engineering talent from its core competencies to convince management to spend the money necessary to support the outsourced CFD."
Investigating Linux ClustersThe inefficiencies and frustration caused by its existing system led Orbital to investigate new computing architectures. Orbital wanted to migrate to a Linux cluster because of the industry-wide reputation that clusters provided optimal performance for CFD applications.
"We wanted a system that scaled linearly with additional CPUs and could grow with us as computational demands increased. Linux clusters provided us with that capability," said Straka.
Orbital engineers were experienced in using UNIX and had dabbled in the Linux operating system for years, so they were well aware of the advantages Linux offered. Although Orbital hadn't deployed Linux on a large scale yet, they were drawn to its cost benefits and flexibility.
"Orbital is steeped in SunOS and UNIX for engineering and CAD purposes, but when it came time to invest in a compute cluster for CFD, it was Linux that even made the conversation realistic because of its cost and hardware independence," said Mike Turner, IS director of Infrastructure for Orbital Sciences.
The Fluent FactorSince Fluent is such a major component of Orbital's design process, it was important that the cluster vendor they chose could meet the following criteria:
- Understand the CFD and aerospace industry
- Experience with Fluent Inc. software
- Experience deploying Fluent-based clusters
- Compelling price/performance ratio
"We want our customers to have a successful, seamless experience when deploying a new compute environment and the Evolocity CFD cluster provides this. Problems with deployment represent a barrier to expanded use of our software and incur costs to the customer," said Paul Bemis, vice president of marketing for Fluent. "The partnership between Linux Networx and Fluent provides end users with a 'sure bet' in terms of successful deployment."
To be certain the Evolocity CFD solution would meet Orbital's needs, Linux Networx ran several Fluent benchmark tests on a cluster at Linux Networx's Solution Center, an in-house testing and validating facility that allows customers to try different cluster configurations. The Solutions Center cluster ran problems with very fine granularity in decomposition, which Orbital's previous computer system was unable to handle in a timely manner. The results from the Solutions Center proved that an optimized CFD cluster could produce results much faster than the previous solution. Impressed with the results from the Solutions Center, Orbital purchased an Evolocity CFD cluster with 24 Intel Xeon processors.
"The major reason why we chose Linux Networx was because of their intimate experience with Fluent," said Vince Allen, manager of aerodynamics. "We wanted a turnkey-type system with Fluent loaded and ready to be used - which is what the Linux Networx CFD system offered."
Delivering the ClusterInstalling a cluster system can be a long, tedious task as miles of cable, hundreds of hardware components, and various software must come together to create a high-performance computer. Linux Networx removes this complexity by completely integrating the cluster at Linux Networx's staging facility prior to delivery. Once the system is completely built up, the cluster undergoes testing and validation to ensure the cluster can be delivered to the customer's site problem-free. With these procedures in place, installing the cluster at Orbital was quick and seamless.
"The racks were laid out perfectly with regard to cable placement and management. The on-site installation engineer was knowledgeable and focused," said Sam Hutton, principal systems analyst in Orbital's IS department. "All in all we experienced a very neat, quick, and professional installation."
Managing the ClusterWith a 24-processor cluster, Orbital wanted to ensure that each node was operating at maximum efficiency, but didn't want to spend time and resources having administrators monitor the cluster for optimal performance. Orbital was able to easily address this problem by installing a suite of total cluster management tools from Linux Networx. Evolocity systems include Clusterworx, a comprehensive cluster management software solution, and Icebox, a cluster management hardware appliance that fully integrates with Clusterworx to increase system uptime and track cluster performance. By installing this management suite, Orbital is able to run more jobs and simplify system administration.
"The management tools allow complete, comprehensive, and effective remote management, including environmental and process monitoring, threshold reporting, remote reboots and power downs, and remote console," said Hutton. "Clusterworx and Icebox are a very robust set of management and proactive monitoring tools."
ResultsSince implementing the cluster, Orbital is seeing significant performance improvements and cost savings. With the optimized CFD cluster, Orbital is able to complete jobs 30 times faster than their previous solution, which significantly reduces the number of problems Orbital has to outsource to third parties. Orbital engineers estimate the Linux Networx CFD cluster will more than pay for itself within the first year because of its fast results and the reduction in outsourcing needs - a savings of over $130,000 in less than one year.
"The Linux Networx CFD clusters allow us to run bigger problems than ever before and more numerous design variations on smaller cases, allowing us to refine our analytical predictions to levels that were not attainable at Orbital before," said Allen.
More important, with the power and capabilities of the cluster, Orbital engineers now have the luxury of routinely running small tasks and achieving much more focused and valid results than they were able to accomplish previously.
"The mere fact that we have the opportunity to make adjustments to a CFD calculation and resubmit it for more specific analysis makes nearly every run a candidate for more refined runs," said Straka. "The biggest benefit to us is even large tasks can run and be refined as needed, resulting in reduced risk of anomalous performance, which increases the confidence of the company in its products."
Businesses and business units of all sizes can benefit from cloud computing, but many don't want the cost, performance and security concerns of public cloud nor the complexity of building their own private clouds. Today, some cloud vendors are using artificial intelligence (AI) to simplify cloud deployment and management. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ajay Gulati, Co-founder and CEO of ZeroStack, will discuss how AI can simplify cloud operations. He will cover the following topics: why clou...
Dec. 4, 2016 08:00 AM EST Reads: 689
The WebRTC Summit New York, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 20th International Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo. WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web ...
Dec. 4, 2016 06:45 AM EST Reads: 1,228
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
Dec. 4, 2016 06:15 AM EST Reads: 6,971
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
Dec. 4, 2016 05:30 AM EST Reads: 1,752
WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
Dec. 4, 2016 04:30 AM EST Reads: 1,554
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their backend AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT - especially in the connected home and office. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Kocher, founder and managing director of Grey Heron, explained how Amazon is extending its reach to become a major force in IoT by building on its dominant cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strat...
Dec. 4, 2016 04:00 AM EST Reads: 6,226
Internet-of-Things discussions can end up either going down the consumer gadget rabbit hole or focused on the sort of data logging that industrial manufacturers have been doing forever. However, in fact, companies today are already using IoT data both to optimize their operational technology and to improve the experience of customer interactions in novel ways. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Gordon Haff, Red Hat Technology Evangelist, will share examples from a wide range of industries – includin...
Dec. 4, 2016 03:45 AM EST Reads: 1,570
"We build IoT infrastructure products - when you have to integrate different devices, different systems and cloud you have to build an application to do that but we eliminate the need to build an application. Our products can integrate any device, any system, any cloud regardless of protocol," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 4, 2016 02:15 AM EST Reads: 886
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, provided an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data professionals...
Dec. 3, 2016 11:00 PM EST Reads: 4,166
"Once customers get a year into their IoT deployments, they start to realize that they may have been shortsighted in the ways they built out their deployment and the key thing I see a lot of people looking at is - how can I take equipment data, pull it back in an IoT solution and show it in a dashboard," stated Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 3, 2016 11:00 PM EST Reads: 971
Fact is, enterprises have significant legacy voice infrastructure that’s costly to replace with pure IP solutions. How can we bring this analog infrastructure into our shiny new cloud applications? There are proven methods to bind both legacy voice applications and traditional PSTN audio into cloud-based applications and services at a carrier scale. Some of the most successful implementations leverage WebRTC, WebSockets, SIP and other open source technologies. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Da...
Dec. 3, 2016 09:30 PM EST Reads: 1,618
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
Dec. 3, 2016 06:15 PM EST Reads: 1,525
"IoT is going to be a huge industry with a lot of value for end users, for industries, for consumers, for manufacturers. How can we use cloud to effectively manage IoT applications," stated Ian Khan, Innovation & Marketing Manager at Solgeniakhela, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 3, 2016 05:30 PM EST Reads: 4,060
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
Dec. 3, 2016 05:15 PM EST Reads: 2,142
@GonzalezCarmen has been ranked the Number One Influencer and @ThingsExpo has been named the Number One Brand in the “M2M 2016: Top 100 Influencers and Brands” by Onalytica. Onalytica analyzed tweets over the last 6 months mentioning the keywords M2M OR “Machine to Machine.” They then identified the top 100 most influential brands and individuals leading the discussion on Twitter.
Dec. 3, 2016 05:15 PM EST Reads: 2,011
Information technology is an industry that has always experienced change, and the dramatic change sweeping across the industry today could not be truthfully described as the first time we've seen such widespread change impacting customer investments. However, the rate of the change, and the potential outcomes from today's digital transformation has the distinct potential to separate the industry into two camps: Organizations that see the change coming, embrace it, and successful leverage it; and...
Dec. 3, 2016 03:15 PM EST Reads: 3,232
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to simplify and streamline our lives by automating routine tasks that distract us from our goals. This promise is based on the ubiquitous deployment of smart, connected devices that link everything from industrial control systems to automobiles to refrigerators. Unfortunately, comparatively few of the devices currently deployed have been developed with an eye toward security, and as the DDoS attacks of late October 2016 have demonstrated, this oversight can ...
Dec. 3, 2016 02:45 PM EST Reads: 734
Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...
Dec. 3, 2016 02:45 PM EST Reads: 587
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to impr...
Dec. 3, 2016 02:15 PM EST Reads: 6,964
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
Dec. 3, 2016 02:00 PM EST Reads: 515