MetService rejects cloud

Opts for hardware upgrade

MetService did glance, appropriately, at the cloud when considering plans to increase the resolution of its three-dimensional computer model of New Zealand’s weather, but likely bandwidth limits led to rejection of that approach.

The upgrade will be almost entirely a hardware matter says CIO Russell Turner. It will involve doubling the linear resolution, taking data points at the corners of 4km squares rather than 8km squares and possibly increasing the number of vertical layers in the model, currently “30 or 40”, he says. From a software point of view that task will be comparatively easy.

Approximately an eightfold increase in computer power is the main emphasis of the move.

The model currently runs on Hewlett Packard blade-servers. It is still not certain whether the task will continue to be run in-house; the new hardware may not fit in MetService’s current datacentre and may have to be run at a remote centre.

Cloud operation is probably not feasible, says Turner, though it was investigated. Amazon can supply arrays of HPC blade processors, but 10 Gbit/s communication with the cloud is probably not sufficient bandwidth, he says.

As a State-owned enterprise, MetService will meet the six-figure cost of the new machine entirely from its own resources, Turner says.

The new equipment is planned to be in place by the end of this year.

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