It’s no secret that a few years ago our primary vendor partner was IBM. It was the right thing to do at the time. ‘Our bird in hand’ was steady, proven and valuable to us and our customers. IBM provided us with world-leading hardware and software to design and build robust HPC systems for our customers (they still do in many cases). We also spent less time recruiting and managing partners and more time serving customers. It was then, and still is, a very successful partnership.
However, times change. After 2008, the world went mad, the pound went from $2 to $1.3 and these unwanted macro economic conditions were causing a lot of issues for our customers. We needed to deal with our customers in the best way possible, so we went looking for ‘birds in the bush’ and broadened our partner base from only being with IBM to having additional partners for each of the components within our solutions.
It was a significant move away – the polar opposite in fact – from our previous strategy, but the market moves and it became evident that being so heavily aligned to a single vendor partner for a period of time restricted choices for us and our customers. The subsequent acquisition of IBM’s x86 server technology by Lenovo certainly proved that nothing stands still for long and we need to be flexible and agile in our attitude.
As time has moved on, we have developed new partnerships. In the server market, we have deployed HPC systems with Lenovo at The Cloud Infrastructure for Microbial Bioinformatics (CLIMB) project and University of Oxford. However, we also do a lot of work with Fujitsu and boast a successful deployment at The Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics (WTCHG).
In storage, we work with DDN, NetApp, Fujitsu, Lenovo and IBM. The storage solutions in a lot of cases are more differentiated according to capability because storage is a more varied product than servers. Nonetheless, we have designed and deployed systems at WTCHG and Public Health England using DDN technology, for example.
As we move into 2016, I believe public sector and commercial organisations will want HPC systems built using best of breed solutions. There will be no single solution right for everyone. To make this possible, we’ll need to continue to have access to best of breed components and maintain world-leading vendor partnerships. And, there will be greater reliance on our skilled team to plan, integrate, manage and support these complex machines.
If you’re interested in learning more about our partners and the types of project we have delivered, please leave a comment below.