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HPC 2017 Part 2: Brexit Needs to be Back of Mind

Here’s my second instalment of our HPC in 2017 blog posts, looking at the HPC market and developments that we can expect in 2017. In this post, I’ll be discussing the political and global changes which could affect the HPC market.

There have been some huge political changes in the US and UK during 2016. I think that one area that has been at the forefront of everyone’s mind [but actually should be in the back] is Brexit. There is a lot of negative talk on how it’s likely to impact UK research activity, but I genuinely don’t think this will happen. If the research is worth doing, it will be done. Plus, in the last Autumn Statement, November 2016, there was great emphasis put on R&D – the Government singled-out R&D as a “key driver of economic growth” and pledged to put an extra £2 billion a year before the end of this parliament.  This time next year, we’ll be wondering what all the ‘Brexit’ fuss was about!

On a global scale, I think it’s also worth noting that a few companies from China, for example Huawei and Inspur, now seem to be targeting the UK as an area of growth, and that can only be a good sign. Chinese systems are increasingly prominent on the TOP500. They have the biggest system in the world and I predict they will have many more systems this time next year. The traditional vendors operating in the UK – Dell, Lenovo, HP, IBM, Fujitsu – will unfortunately come under some pressure from such organisations.

One other interesting development that has appeared is that tech companies based in the UK have become cheaper for companies abroad to buy, for example, the Japanese company Softbank recently acquired ARM.  That trend is likely, in my opinion, to continue.

Across the water to the US and president-elect, Trump, is an interesting one! He’ll certainly have more impact in America than he does here, of course. And, he has said a lot of things about pretty much everything. However, from our perspective, he is raising the importance of cyber security. Cyber security is a big HPC play, so there is potentially a lot of money to be invested in that area. For example, HPC technology has the capability to simultaneously monitor thousands of entry points in a vast computer network, detect potential threats and anomalies, and shut down the attack before further damage can be inflicted. HPC technology can even predict when and where the next cyber intrusion is likely to occur. On the flip side, there is a requirement to protect those HPC systems, which process and manage the most sensitive data. It will definitely be a growth area.

In part 3, we’ll be looking at the HPC channel, suppliers and challenges they may face in 2017.

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