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Hardware or Cloudware?

An insightful discussion with Altair's PBS Works CTO and ADMIN HPC

Altair makes software for local high-performance computing systems and also provides HPC services through the cloud. Bill Nitzberg, CTO of Altair’s PBS Works division, provides his take on the changing market and the relative benefits of cloud versus local HPC.

AM: As for the interface as a critical component, Altair has put out a couple of products recently: Compute Manager and PBS Desktop. How do these tools fit in with this concept of an interface to the cloud?

BN: Compute Manager really is our flagship portal – our third-generation portal – and we’ve learned a lot. We think Compute Manager does some really unique things. For engineers, it presents a workflow in relation to the kinds of things you need to do. I want to submit my job, I have some jobs running, and I want to actually monitor them, and I don’t just mean see which ones are running and which ones are not, but I mean being able to click through all the way to the data that is running on the device, and say, “Hey, that simulation is not converging. Let me change some parameters and resubmit it,” right in the middle of a run. So it is really tuned to give you a view of your simulation without exposing all the computer science details and making you learn the intricacies of Linux and Windows. That’s from the user side. From the administration side, we factored out a bunch of the administrative parts in a very denotational way, basically described in an XML file, in a very portable way, so that different organizations can actually share what we call application definitions and then only have to configure the very site-specific stuff for a particular set of applications.

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Altair Engineering, Inc., empowers client innovation and decision-making through technology that optimizes the analysis, management and visualization of business and engineering information. Privately held, with more than 1,500 employees, Altair has offices throughout North America, South America, Europe and Asia/Pacific. With a 26-year track record for high-end software and consulting services for engineering, computing and enterprise analytics, Altair consistently delivers a competitive advantage to customers in a broad range of industries. To learn more about Altair, please visit

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