An Analysis of Public Clouds Elasticity in the Execution of Scientific Applications: a Survey
In this paper, we describe the findings of the NEON project - a cross-Nordic - Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland - project evaluating the usefulness of private versus public cloud services for HPC users. Our findings are briefly that private cloud technology is not mature enough yet to provide a transparent user experience. It is expected that this will be the case mid 2012. The cost efficiency of both public and private cloud should be continuously monitored as there is a strong downward trend. This conclusion is supported by NEON experimenting as well as larger initiatives e.g. StratusLab reports. Public cloud technology is mature enough but lacks certain features that will be necessary to include cloud resources in a transparent manner in a national infrastructure like the Norwegian NOTUR (www.notur.no) case, e.g. with respect to quota management. These features are expected to emerge in 2011 via third party management software and in the best of breed public cloud services. Public clouds are competitive in the low end for non-HPC jobs (low memory, low number of cores) on price. A significant fraction (ca. 20%) of the jobs running on the current Nordic supercomputer infrastructure are potentially suitable for cloud-like technology. This holds in particular for singlethreaded or single-node jobs with small/medium memory requirements and non-intensive I/O. There is a backlog of real supercomputer jobs that suffers from the non-HPC jobs on the supercomputer infrastructure. Off-loading these non-HPC jobs to a public cloud would effectively add supercomputing capacity. Another finding is that available storage capacity is not accessible in a user-friendly way; most storage clouds are only accessible via programmable interfaces. A number of experiments and piloting are presented to support these claims.