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If we had gone with cloud, we would be constantly overrunning hours and getting billed for them. That can be really expensive.

– Chris Thorpe, Briggs & Stratton, LLC Engineering Manager – Simulation & Materials Lab

Their Challenge


Briggs & Stratton, LLC had been a client for about 7 years when they contacted Nor-Tech again
about a new cluster. Their original Nor-Tech cluster was 6 years old and was starting to run into
some issues that are typical of older technology.

Briggs & Stratton, LLC Engineering Manager – Simulation & Materials Lab, Christian
(Chris) Thorpe explained, “The original cluster was a very reliable machine, it was great. The
person that was working most closely with that cluster had been very, very happy it. However, we
needed the new cluster for high-speed computing for our simulation team and we needed
hardware that would support new software and a new operating system.”

Nor-Tech Senior HPC Account Manager Bob Dreis said, “One of the reasons I think they
chose us again is the turnkey nature of the original cluster; it was up and running the first day. We
took all the challenges and hurdles out of the equation and made this a smooth deployment for
them. They also liked that the original cluster had an extremely low failure rate and that our price
was competitive. They also knew that we could explain things in terms that non-tech people could
understand. This was important because they just didn’t have the inhouse expertise that they had
with the first cluster.”

Our Solution

Chris and his colleagues at Briggs & Stratton, did consider going with cloud, but after crunching
the numbers, it was clear that on prem HPC was the most logical route.

“Some companies are moving toward the cloud, but that didn’t make financial sense for
us,” he said. “In our case, we have a lot of users without a high level of technical expertise. So,
they spend a lot of time using the cluster. If we had gone with cloud, we would be constantly
overrunning hours and getting billed for them. That can be really expensive.”

The new cluster was expertly engineered with both AMD and Intel processors for specific
applications; AMD for CFD and Intel for Ansys. “This offered a more optimal configuration to
maximize their CAE software investment,” Bob said. “Briggs & Stratton knew we had the
expertise to make it all work harmoniously together.”

Once built and integrated, Nor-Tech shipped the cluster and installed it in Briggs &
Stratton’s server room. As with most new clusters, there were a few minor bugs that Nor-Tech
promptly took care of. “The deployment process went very smoothly,” Chris said. “Nor-Tech had it
fully deployed in 6 hours. In fact, we were able to launch a couple of jobs the same day.”

Their Success

Chris and his team saw a significant improvement over the original cluster in terms of power,
performance, and capabilities. “The customer service has been outstanding,” Chris said. “The
entire Nor-Tech support team has been accessible and responsive. Would I recommend Nor-
Tech? Definitely. Bob and everyone else I’ve worked with at Nor-Tech have been doing a
fantastic job.”

Chris has some last words of advice for those trying to decide between cloud and onprem
HPC. “In order for cloud to work, you need to have tight control (and in some cases
restrictions) over the hours those services are running. We have a large group of casual users
and with on prem we don’t need to worry about overrunning hours or keeping track of hours. If
you have a casual user base or a group of people that don’t have a lot of experience with HPC,
cloud isn’t a good idea. What we have now is very cost effective.”

BTW: the original cluster is still up and running. It will eventually transition into a file

Reports/Studies/Articles: Advantages Of On Prem v. Cloud

Downloadable PDF: U.S. DOE Magellan Final Report on Cloud Computing
Downloadable PDF: NASA Technical Report Comparing Costs of Cloud v. HPC
Advantages of Cloud for Research Computing
Cloud vs. On Prem Cost Studies
Basecamp CTO on Cost Savings of Servers v. Cloud
HPCwire Article on Pitfalls of Cloud

Contact Nor-Tech

Email: info@nor-tech.com

Call 952-808-1000; toll free: 877-808-1010


Here is a sample cost comparison of HPC v. Cloud. If
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