Report: VMware is working on a cloud-based HPC service

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More than a month ahead of VMware Inc.’s annual Las Vegas conference, the rumor mill is already starting to churn. An anonymous insider told CRN this week that the vendor plans to launch a high-performance computing (HPC) service for vCloud Air at the event in a bid to broaden the platform’s appeal.

The tipster didn’t go into more detail, but it’s not difficult to guess the segments that VMware may be looking to target with the offering. High-performance computing infrastructure is most commonly used by academic institutions to run scientific simulations and in industries such as healthcare and manufacturing with a lot of commercial research activity. It’s also in great demand among financial services companies, particularly those that perform high-speed trading. However, all these organizations already have numerous other platforms to choose from besides vCloud Air that may be difficult for VMware to challenge given its late entry into the market.

As a result, CRN’s tipster said that the vendor will promote its upcoming service mainly to existing cloud customers at first before venturing into the broader market. Users of VMware’s hugely popular vSphere virtualization software may be affected as well, albeit in a more indirect way.

The hypervisor serves as the foundation of vCloud Air, yet currently provides only limited support for high-performance computing hardware. A March blog post by VMware executive Josh Simons, for instance, noted that vSphere can only use one of the GPUs in Nvidia Corp.’s popular K80 accelerator at any given time. As a result, the company may have had to make certain enhancements to the software in order to support its upcoming HPC service. And if that is indeed the case, then those enhancements could eventually become available for on-premise users as well, perhaps as soon as next month when VMworld kicks off.

But of course, everything is speculation at this point. Rumors about the virtualization giant should be taken with an especially large grain of salt since insiders previously provided conflicting reports that feature development for vCloud Air has been halted. Regardless of how accurate this week’s leak turns out to be, however, VMware’s HPC plans should make for some interesting discussions at its forthcoming event. SiliconANGLE will be broadcasting live from the show floor to bring you the latest scoops.

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