Case: Water research in the HPC Cloud(Publicatie)

Delft-based IHE (International Institute for Infrastructural Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering) offers Master's degrees and PhD programmes in water management. Students, lecturers and researchers collaborate on projects which require a lot of computing power and storage capacity. Some of them use SURFsara's HPC Cloud for their research.

13 MAY 2016

Own clusters

SURFsara has been offering the Dutch academic community access to the HPC Cloud since 2009. This allows users to build their own clusters made up of virtual machines. According to researcher Gerald Corzo, this option was well suited to IHE's requirements: ‘Several of our students needed HPC facilities. We looked at various options, but ultimately it came down to SURFsara. We use OpenNebula on the HPC Cloud. The latest update of OpenNebula has a number of key benefits for us, particularly when we're uploading and editing images.’

Modelling and simulation

Around 15 students and researchers use the HPC Cloud. ‘It's mainly used for coastal projects, such as the behaviour of the sea around a delta,’ says Corzo. ‘We look at morphological changes in the coastline and also at navigation or the effects of storms. We do this using modelling and simulation to help us. We need to able to calculate and evaluate a large number of scenarios.’

Efficient and flexible

Modelling and simulation take a lot of computing power. Researchers at IHE evaluate large numbers of past and future scenarios. ‘We find HPC Cloud to be an efficient and flexible system,’ says Corzo. ‘It only takes us 10 to 15 minutes to set up a computing environment. We can develop virtual machines easily on our own computers and then upload them to the HPC Cloud. We can also copy these virtual machines any number of times to the HPC Cloud, so it's easy for us to scale up.’


SURFsara ran 2 workshops for IHE, in March and October 2015. ‘The first workshop was mainly about data-driven modelling, and the demands that this places on the systems,’ says Corzo. ‘The second workshop was primarily aimed at our students, who were given a good overview of the potential offered by high-performance computing in general, and the HPC Cloud in particular. This was a revelation to many students.’


Corzo speaks positively about the support received from SURFsara: ‘We have a good relationship with SURFsara and they give us a great deal of support. The same applies for our students. We know where to go if we have special requirements, or if we need additional computing power. We also have a single contact who knows our organisation really well. That makes all the difference.’

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