Higher Education Looks to the Cloud for HPC and AI Resources

university architecture
Dell Technologies

When it comes to capitalizing on the latest computing technologies, higher education institutions have always been at the front of the class. That’s the case today as many academic institutions now use high performance computing systems and artificial intelligence applications to accelerate scientific explorations and other data- and compute-intensive workloads. But in a twist on this trend, colleges and universities are increasingly moving some of these HPC and AI workloads to cloud environments.

This into-the-cloud trend is explored in a new Forrester Consulting report, “HPC And AI in The Cloud: A Spotlight on Higher Education.” In this report, commissioned by Dell Technologies and Intel, Forrester notes that in a global survey of IT decision makers in higher education organizations, it found growing interest in running HPC and AI workloads in hybrid cloud environments.

Currently, about a fourth of the respondents use public and private clouds to run HPC or AI workloads, Forrester says. Within the next 12 months, there will be a clear shift to the cloud. The survey found that 31 percent of respondents plan to run HPC services in the public cloud and 35 percent of respondents plan to run AI and machine learning workloads in private clouds. This move is largely driven by a desire to improve overall infrastructure utilization and efficiency, Forrester says.

Let’s look at some of the other findings from Forrester’s research.  The firm’s higher ed spotlight notes:

  • Cloud can be a transformational force for organizations. “Cloud computing is a powerful force with the capacity to truly transform campus administrative operations. However, today, most higher education institutions are either using cloud to improve existing infrastructure, processes, and applications or to add capabilities to on-premises environments, without fundamentally altering operational models. This modernization is a critical step towards advancing AI capabilities.”
  • HPC and AI workloads are starting to move to cloud for efficiency gains. “Though HPC and AI services are mostly run on-premises today, within the year there will be a shift towards more public and private cloud use. Driven by a desire to optimize infrastructure utilization and efficiency, most organizations — moving forward — will work with an environment that encompasses on-premises and cloud options.”
  • Teams struggle with high costs and other challenges. “It’s not all smooth sailing. Respondents report issues with security, application architecture, and the work involved getting internal teams up to speed on key skill sets, all while trying to balance the costs and benefits of moving workloads to the cloud.”
  • Hybrid is the new reality for a reason. “It’s not simply that teams are choosing to keep some applications on non-cloud infrastructure. IT teams are making infrastructure decisions based on a myriad of business and application requirements. And the fact remains that HPC and AI workloads running in hybrid environments will lead to a slew of business benefits that can help organizations overcome the challenges inherent in cloud migration, while also providing returns on initial investments.”

Ultimately, the findings in the higher education survey suggest that while institutions face some significant obstacles in the road to the cloud, they clearly see the benefits of moving more HPC and AI workloads to the cloud in the coming years. And some are already there today.

We will let Forrester have the last word here: “If organizations want to make the most efficient use of the infrastructure options at their disposal, running AI and HPC workloads in a hybrid environment is a wise choice.”

To learn more

For the full story, see the Forrester Consulting report “HPC And AI in The Cloud: A Spotlight on Higher Education.”

For more information on how to accelerate your AI journey, explore Intel AI Builders, Artificial Intelligence Solutions from Dell Technologies, and HPC Solutions from Dell Technologies.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.