In this article, the author covers some of what CRL is doing with Eka (pronounced eh-kch).
There are some interesting points:
Not sure I agree that it is the first time a corporate institution is doing this … others have been there before, and some are continuing, such as Tsunamic Technologies.
This said, the other point is very much on target.
Most of the governmental backed/based HPC providers are doing so, specifically to further their research. And there is nothing wrong with this.
All this means is that some of the decisions being made, aren’t being made with a bottom line or customer focus in mind. That is, they are not trying to minimize the cost per FLOP or GB/s. But CRL has to, as it is a business.
This leads to very different HPC systems designs. And very different charge back models. To break even, you need the money coming in to completely offset the money going out. So, while buying capital equipment and hosting it may work well for various groups, for others it is harder.
Basically to break even, CRL simply has to make sure the utilization is high, and the cost per unit time used is comparable to what people might pay to host locally. They win then.
The trick in this business model is simply level of utilization.
But they are approaching it quite sensibly, and have multiple business models for selling the resource
This is quite interesting. I wonder if this model could be successful in the US.