The most important operational infrastructure of the Romanian HPC Competence Centre (RO NCC) is ICIPRO platform. The ICIPRO project, as well as the RO NCC, is hosted by the National Institute for Research and Development in Informatics (ICI Bucharest). It is financed via the Sectoral Operational Program – Increase of Economic Competitiveness, “Structural Instruments / SMIS 48594” and it is operational since 2015. ICIPRO represents the first consistent initiative related to Cloud Computing for public administration, academia and SMEs in Romania.
The use of the ICIPRO computing resources leads to the avoidance of acquiring oversized infrastructures for services that actually end up having limited use. Due to the flexibility offered by the Cloud model, the resources allocated to any particular service/ application can accurately track the resource requirements for the respective product. The ICIPRO platform can be a good indicator in this respect, because it offers an overall perspective on the success level of the public services implemented on the intended technical platform. With its integrated monitoring capabilities, the ICIPRO platform can objectively indicate how often a public service is used.
ICIPRO combines the benefits of the public cloud (on-demand, self-service, scalability), with those usually associated with on-premise environments (governance, predictability, control) and is presented mainly as an infrastructure service – IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service). The technical solution components come from trustworthy large-scale manufacturers, able to consistently support not only the implementation of such components in Romania, but also their maintenance after commissioning.
One key advantage of using the IaaS infrastructure is the flexibility of resource management. Each tenant can create, delete or modify their own virtual machines/resources, according to their current needs, and the provisioning of these resources is done quickly, from an intuitive web interface. With a constant computing power of approximately 44 Tflops, with 2240 X86 architecture cores, 432.5 TB usable storage, and 10 Gb connections, the ICIPRO infrastructure has adapted to the heterogenous requirements of its users, such as the need to solve large computational tasks. Therefore, a special service template has been created for different HPC models: Data Analytics, MPI (Numerical solvers/scientific simulations), parametric sweep (batch). The specialists from ICI Bucharest joined forces with specialists from the academic community to build a mixed HPC infrastructure, adding additional hardware resources (GPUs) to fully cover the fluctuations/peaks in demand for special projects.
The ICIPRO computational resources can be used by several categories of beneficiaries, including:
- Academic researchers, who can apply for computational resources via ICIPRO subscriptions;
- State authority users, who can access additional computational resources via the ICIPRO project;
- SMEs and start-ups, who can lease computational cycles via commercial contracts for business development;
- Its resources can also be used for sandbox programs meant for testing new technologies within “in vitro” projects.
It is worth mentioning that ICI Bucharest also hosts a specialized Training Centre for both internal and external attendees who can efficiently use ICIPRO resources in their laboratory sessions. We believe that this platform is a great strength for the RO NCC, making possible to envision future activities with productive outcomes both at academic and technical level for a multitude of interested parties.