The Internet of Workflow

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The next big thing, Nicolas Dubé, VP and chief technologist for HPE’s HPC business unit, told the virtual audience at SFE21, is something that will connect HPC and (broadly) all of IT – into what Dubé calls The Internet of Workflows (IoW).

Taken from “What’s After Exascale? The Internet of Workflows Says HPE’s Nicolas Dubé“,

The IoW, said Dubé, is about “applying those principles to a much broader set of scientific fields because we’re convinced that is where this is going.”

Dubé presented here are six takeaway, briefly touching on recent relevant advances as well as a list of requirements for developing the IoW.

  1. First the Basics. The effort to achieve exascale and the needs of heterogeneous computing generally were catalysts in producing technologies needed for IoW. Dubé also noted the “countless silicon startups doing accelerators” to tackle diverse workloads. Still, lots more work is needed. Here’s snippet on MCM’s expected impact on memory.
  2. White Hats & Data Sovereignty. A key issue, currently not fully addressed, is data sovereignty. Dubé agrees it’s a critical challenge now and will be even more so in an IoW world. He didn’t offer specific technology or practice guidelines.
  3. New Runtimes for a Grand Vision. It’s one thing to dream of IoW; it’s another to build it. Effective parallel programming for diverse devices and the availability of reasonably performant runtime systems able to accommodate device diversity are all needed.
  4. Chasing Performance Portability…Still. Tight vertical software integration as promoted by some (pick your favorite target vendor) isn’t a good idea, argued Dubé. This isn’t a new controversy and maybe it’s a hard-stop roadblock for IoW. We’ll see. Dubé argues for openness and says HPE (Cray) is trying to make the Cray Programming Environment a good choice.
  5. A Combinatorial Explosion of Configurations”. Now there’s an interesting turn of phrase. The avalanche of new chips from old and newcomers is a blessing and curse. Creating systems to accommodate the new wealth of choices is likewise exciting but daunting and expensive. Dubé argues we need to find ways to cut the costs of silicon innovation and subsequent systems to help bring the IoW into being.
  6. Worldwide Data Hub? If one is going to set goals, they may as well be big ones. Creating an infrastructure with reasonable governance and practices to support an IoW is a big goal. Data is at the core of nearly everything, Dubé argued.

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