At the University of Utah, scientists who require access to computational resources rely on the Center for High Performance Computing (CHPC), a facility that maintains 872 nodes across three clusters. To run those clusters, the CHPC relies on open source software, specifically Red Hat Enterprise Linux as an operating system and GroundWork Monitor for IT and network monitoring.
Tom Ammon, a network engineer at the CHPC said that his organization has used GroundWork for nearly two years. The monitoring tool replaced Nagios, an open source network monitoring tool. “Nagios is really powerful and flexible, but it has an arcane syntax and it’s a hassle to configure,” Ammon said. The university’s switch to GroundWork was made with the hopes of reducing the time spent administering the monitoring system.
While GroundWork has been successful in terms of streamlining administration tasks, Ammon said that the tool has also brought greater functionality than he anticipated. “GroundWork is open enough so that we’ve been able to integrate it with a lot of open source packages,” he said. For example, the CHPC has integrated GroundWork with Cacti, an open source networking graphing tool. According to Ammon, combining GroundWork’s network status information with Cacti’s graphing capability enables CHPC to look at trending data. “We use trending data in the data center to monitor things like temperature and humidity,” Ammon explained. “It’s not that helpful to know what the temperature is right now if you didn’t know what it’s been like for 24 hours,” he said.
With Red Hat Linux running on clusters and open source tools helping to monitor and manage the operational work involved in providing high-performance computing resources, open source, said Ammon, “has really revolutionized the way we are accomplishing our mission.”