[Beowulf] posting bonnie++ stats from our cluster: any comments about my I/O performance stats?

Michael Will mwill at penguincomputing.com
Fri Sep 25 11:27:29 PDT 2009


Rahul,

>From what you posted to the list there is no need to apologize. If there was something going on behind
the curtains personally between you and Jeff then that is not really a concern to the list.

Keep asking questions and keep curious, and keep posting back results that you find. In fact I find it very
interesting, especially since technology progresses so fast, and estimates based on experience expire rather quickly.

Maybe I should mention some pieces of advice on how to deal with vendors that I base on
my experience of being on the other side of the fence as a sales engineer for many years:

Engage multiple vendors and let them propose technical solutions to your use cases / performance / application goals. 
Some will have quite technically skilled sales engineering resources, and Jeff Layton for sure is somebody with deep 
technical experience.  Treat public whitepapers as marketing material that will show the solution in the
best light for the best use case and not as a hard technical information. They are still interesting to skim over 
as they describe specific solutions and their intended properties. 

Then engage in a personal technical dialog with vendors software engineers and try to get to a more technically 
sound solution plus estimate of what it can really do, what its potential drawbacks and advantages are. 

I know vendors don't like this (I work for one) but it is in your best interest to talk through
the alternative designs you got from other vendors with the sales engineer and have him shoot it down to the best 
of his ability. Keep in mind he is trying to sell you his solution, so he won't necessarily highlight the good in the alternative 
design, but he will highlight the weaknesses that the other designer did not choose to focus on. Bring up those points
with the alternative designer to see if they can rebut it quickly, and also do your own research about it. 

Then consolidate the designs and base your choice of vendor not just on the cheapest price of components but on how qualified
the design was, because a lot of value is in getting the right solution and ongoing support, not just the right parts. Let all vendors
know why you choose design / vendor X so they can adjust their offerings in the future to fit your needs.

Best of luck - Michael Will, HPC Software Engineer at Penguin Computing

-----Original Message-----
From: beowulf-bounces at beowulf.org on behalf of Rahul Nabar
Sent: Fri 9/25/2009 9:12 AM
To: Jeff Layton
Cc: Beowulf Mailing List
Subject: Re: [Beowulf] posting bonnie++ stats from our cluster: any comments about my I/O performance stats?
 
On Fri, Sep 25, 2009 at 8:52 AM, Jeff Layton <laytonjb at att.net> wrote:


>I don't want to take a public list to pick a fight but I don't want Rahul to
>bad mouth me, my reputation, and the company I work for without some
>sort or rebuttal.

Jeff:

I'm sorry that you take this as bad mouthing you. I sincerely
apologize as this wasn't the intention at all. I am speaking with
several vendors and my comments weren't directed at you.  It is true
though that we have been a major purchaser of Dell systems. Sometimes
we are happy and sometimes we are not . And this goes to all vendors.

Now there is one thing (in hindsight) that I think *I am* guilty of:
I've been posting a lot of questions on the list. Many of you guys are
very well paid professionals and I ought not to be abusing your time
for free. I apologize if I have.

On the other hand let me make my position clearer:  Buying a good
system for my institution is a goal, sure. But a lot of this
benchmarking that I do here is from a purely scientific curiosity I
have in understanding what I am buying or working with. Building,
selling, or maintaining Beowulf systems is *not* my primary
occupation. But  all through my graduate student stint I've worked on
these and I cannot help that I have a curiosity for this stuff.

Clusters, linux and Beowulf and all the related stuff is fascinating.
I just want to know more about the systems I am using. I am willing to
do my homework but sometimes post to get opinions from other experts
that know better. Of course, I do realize that this is free advice
from peers and I have no expectation of more.

Again, I apologize if I hurt any feelings. That wasn't my intention at all.

-- 
Rahul
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