PIER Group: Powering Advanced Academic Research

The benchmark of excellence for the most esteemed universities is attracting the best researchers around the world to their campus. However, the top researchers will only be interested in joining if the campus houses all the latest technologies supplementing adva-nced research. But out of all the ground-breaking technological strides that researchers are adopting as prerequisites for advancing a university’s critical initiatives, HPC (High-Performance Computing) wins hands down, owing to its countless advantages that include application-driven computing, high networking capacity, enhanced computational power, and much more. On this note, HPC solutions are attracting researchers from every discipline—right from astronomy to bioinformatics to diagnostic medicine and beyond.

But then comes the catch! Typically, HPC systems are used to process massive data sets that researchers collect from various parts of the world. Simultaneously, universities also need to ensure its swift accessibility as researchers might refer to decades-old data as and when necessary. Now, even though universities are aware of the vitality of it all, with reduced IT budgets over the last five years coupled with the dearth of manpower, the IT personnel across universities don’t have the expertise regarding the nitty gritty of the technology or the time and adequate knowledge to know what to buy. Consequently, data management and archival prove to be a problem. The situation leaves universities stranded in a position where researchers face roadblocks in leveraging high-grade HPC solutions for their academic pursuits due to severe data storage issues.

Rising to the occasion, PIER Group, an acronym for Partners in Education and Research, is facilitating a complete ecosystem of users, partners, software developers, and researchers, all unique to the higher education environment, to make HPC implementation easier and more actionable. As IT departments across numerous universities are not fully equipped to set up HPC clusters themselves, there have been initiatives to acquire HPC clusters on the basis of a condo model. Under this “condo cluster” model, faculty researchers buy a piece of a much larger HPC system and can access the cluster based on the price they are paying. And this is where PIER Group effectively facilitates seamless access to HPC clusters through ‘condo cluster’ models for multiple departments under a university, based on their size and requirement.

"By providing highly specialized clusters to research institutes along with interoperable storage units, we help them be on par with the rising demand for high performance computing solutions for advanced research, while addressing the ever-growing issue of data storage,” states Chad Williams, President of PIER Group. The company is also involved in designing and optimizing large-scale optical networking solutions, which connect institutions within states and across nations and the world, helping researchers and academicians to stay connected within the community.

However, it is not really the first grade HPC solutions that the company takes real pride in. It is the consultative approach that the company believes is the most essential factor behind their success. “We believe in a long-term engagement with our clients where we simply sit down with them to take a walk through their goals and objectives over the period of one year or more, depending on the scale and size of the implementation. And only after gaining an in-depth insight into their modus operandi, does PIER Group start crafting customized solutions,” states Jim Kovach, Director of Business Development in Higher Education and Research at PIER Group.

By providing highly specialized clusters to research institutes along with interoperable storage units, we help them be on par with the rising demand for high performance computing solutions for advanced research, while addressing the ever-growing issue of data storage

What’s more, PIER Group’s enduring relationships with its eminent manufacturer partners enable them to devise complex future-thinking solutions for the most diverse environments. Owing to their tie-ups with Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Aruba, they can even borrow their expertise as and when they feel it is necessary.

Having built long-standing relationships with some of the most prestigious national labs and higher education institutions in the US, including the University of Illinois& NCSA, University of Minnesota, Indiana University, and the University of Chicago, among many others, PIER group has propelled numerous university computing systems onto the TOP 500 supercomputers list.

Both Chad and Dan Fennell, Director for HPC, refer to an ongoing project where the company is helping a university address the data storage issue by providing multiple storage solutions that can communicate with each other even as the focus is on managing the client’s data growth. “Since researchers don’t ever want to get rid of the data and demand access to age-old data at any given point in time, we are deploying a hierarchical management model where the data that’s least accessed, is transferred to another storage device, all the while making sure that the user can always pull in the data within a day or two as per their requirements,” affirms Dan.

Building on their objective to let academic institutions gain a competitive edge across a multitude of disciplines, PIER Group is planning to garner more clients even as they are exploring new territories for expansion over the next three years. Meanwhile, as the sheer size of research-related data sets grows larger with the clock ticking by, collaborations between national research labs and multiple universities are rising. And reckoning on this opportunity, PIER Group is enthusiastically looking forward to facilitating such cooperative ventures. “One of our prime focuses is foster collaboration between national research labs and universities to move colossal amounts of data in an expeditious fashion, while we stay true to our company name and enable ground-breaking research advancements across the country,” concludes Chad.

PIER Group

Jasper, IN

Chad Williams, President; Jim Kovach, Director of Business Development; Dan Fennell, Director of HPC Sales

PIER Group designs and provides advanced HPC solutions to the most diverse environments while addressing the most complex future-thinking needs.

PIER Group