Microsoft has snapped up a high-performance computing (HPC) company in its quest to cloudify practically all types of enterprise workloads. The Redmond, Wash. IT vendor has acquired HPC company Cycle Computing for an undisclosed amount, the companies said on Aug. 15.
The deal, along with the GreenButton deal of 2014, adds to the company's technology portfolio to make it more competitive in the increasingly crowded market for enterprise cloud services.
"The cloud war is on but it's not about price. Its more about providing services and solutions to help solve complex problems. We are not talking about development environments anymore; this is more about real workloads moving into the cloud, causing a huge demand for managed services," Adnan Raja, vice president of marketing at cloud hosting provider Atlantic.Net, told eWEEK in email remarks.
Cycle Computing, a charter member of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, specializes in cloud orchestration software that enables organizations to run compute-intensive workloads, or Big Compute as Microsoft terms it, on cloud computing infrastructures. Before cloud-based HPC, such workloads typically required the use to expensive supercomputers or clusters.
Without naming names, Cycle Computing claims that its customers are among the top five life insurance companies and the top ten pharmaceutical and biotech firms, among other corporate giants. Last year, Dell tapped Cycle Computing for a proof-of-concept that demonstrated an HPC-as-a-service with hybrid cloud management capabilities.
Today, Cycle Computing is the latest example of cloud consolidation.
"Microsoft's acquisition is a perfect example of where the industry is headed, with competitive landscape of a very few specialized cloud providers," added Raja. "This acquisition shows how serious the competition is and consolidation is happening at a rapid pace. But competition is always good and healthy for the industry."
In his announcement, Jason Zander, corporate vice president of Microsoft Azure, said his company's extensive global cloud and Cycle Computing's expertise in enabling massively scalable applications not only opens up new possibilities, but will make more HPC accessible to customers. "Their technology will further enhance our support of Linux HPC workloads and make it easier to extend on-premise workloads to the cloud," he added.
The Cycle Computing buy aside, Microsoft has been steadily expanding its cloud HPC portfolio.
In 2015, the company announced Azure virtual machines that support Linux Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) with Intel Message Passing Interface (MPI), allowing workloads to better capitalize on the company's InfiniBand network for high-throughput, low-latency performance. Last year, the company released Batch Shipyard v.1 under its Azure Big Compute suite, allowing customers to quickly deploy batch-style, Dockerized workloads on the company's Azure Batch compute management and job scheduling service (itself based on the company's acquisition of GreenButton).
The technology giant faces some competition in its bid to bring HPC to the masses, however.
In May, supercomputer maker Cray announced it had partnered with cloud provider Markley, offering the HPC capabilities of its Urika-GX appliances as an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offering. Beyond Markley, the storied supercomputer vendor is exploring other ways of bringing its innovations to market.