InfiniBand is a technology developed by IBM that is used to interconnect supercomputers. The industry standard is currently the Gigabyte Ethernet connection which caps transport speeds at about 40Gbps. InfiniBand goes above and beyond that measure by providing dataflow at 56Gbps. InfiniBand isn’t a new offering by IBM; however, InfiniBand is a new offering for the IBM’s cloud endeavor SoftLayer. IBM mentions that InfiniBand was built for supercomputers but by introducing InfiniBand into the cloud, organizations will be able to perform high performance computing tasks using a cloud service that is interconnected using InfiniBand’s ultra low latency cabling.
Marc Jones, vice president of innovation at SoftLayer, is quoted as saying, “Companies are embracing cloud for standard workloads, but they are also looking to move their high-performance workloads to the cloud, or looking to augment capacity they have in-house,” said Marc Jones, IBM SoftLayer vice president of product innovation. “A lot of these companies will have workloads that are extremely demanding of performance.”
IBM is betting on InfiniBand being the determining factor in high performance computing solutions for the cloud. SoftLayer’s announcement of InfiniBand being available at the end of the year makes it enticing for potential clients who are performing supercomputing tasks in house to try moving their computational tasks into the cloud. SoftLayer also plans to provide an option to interconnect bare metal servers inside of its datacenters using InfiniBand. PCWorld is reporting that this technology should be available for public consumption by the end of 2014 as well.
By coupling InfiniBand and its cloud offering SoftLayer, IBM’s public cloud begins to attract a different type of customer. Academia, government agencies and oil companies are reported to have backlogs of supercomputing jobs. These intense number crunching high performance computing loads can take several weeks or months to complete. With the release of InfiniBand into SoftLayer, IBM looks to target these types of institutions in order to earn their business.