We are officially in the midst of the scorching summer months, and the great vacation migration to points all over the world has begun. While preparations and packing for these trips can be mind-numbing, many of the unknowns that keep mom and dad up the night before are being safeguarded by an unsuspected ally: high-performance computing (HPC) systems.
An incredible shift is underway in the HPC market. HPC and the big data phenomenon have converged, moving HPC out of its comfort zone of research institutions and oil and gas companies, and into industries like travel, automotive, and financial. Open and collaborative innovation and design from organizations like the OpenPOWER Foundation are enabling these new industries to leverage data in ways they never expected. And customers are benefiting big time.
Whether you are flying, driving, or spending time on your boat on the river, chances are HPC has already played a role in your vacation. Before you even booked your trip, the designers of the car, plane, or boat have made them more efficient and cost-effective through digital modeling made possible by HPC systems. Companies are testing designs and features virtually with HPC instead of using clay models or crash tests. No longer do they have to place model cars into a wind tunnel to learn how to cut down on resistance and achieve optimal fuel efficiency. Now, this work is done on a computer screen, using data to make transportation more affordable.
Design and development is just the start. As you lock up your home and head out on vacation, HPC systems will be working overtime to ensure your trip goes exactly as planned.
Flying? Airline companies use powerful HPC systems for real-time analytics. The application of mathematics in HPC ensures that your flight will be full, keeping ticket prices low and affordable. Airlines also use high-performance analytics for staffing and crew scheduling, making sure the crew is fresh and ready for any eventuality during flight.
Driving? HPC analytics are behind the traffic models you are searching on your GPS or smartphone when you see brake lights on the turnpike. Rest assured that, somewhere, an HPC system is analyzing traffic patterns and data to determine which exit and side road you should take to get you to your destination as quickly as possible.
At your destination, the first thing you are going to want to do – aside from perhaps taking a dip in the hotel pool – is plan your itinerary for visiting the beach, amusement park, or hiking the local trails. You pull out your smartphone and, within seconds, you have the local forecast and know when the weather will be ideal for these outings. Weather forecasting is one of HPC’s fortes. The systems are fine-tuned to crunch the massive amounts of data inherent in weather modeling, giving you easy-to-read forecasts so your family doesn’t get stuck on the roller coaster line in the pouring rain.
Finances are also critical when on vacation. From buying a pair of sunglasses to purchasing tickets to theme parks, you are going to spend money. But when you attempt to withdraw money from an ATM far from home, fraud protections might work against you. Without the underpinning infrastructure of HPC in the financial services sector, your account might be frozen by your bank. But because of analytical power of HPC, your bank knows that you booked a hotel and bought flights out of town, and saw you pick up a coffee and a newspaper at the airport. Your bank has analyzed your purchase patterns and concluded that there has been no fraud or breach of security, allowing you to spend money without constraint or worry that your account will be frozen.
Data is king. Traveling for summer vacation is a perfect example of how we leverage and rely on HPC systems to crunch data for a smooth ride. So, the next time you are standing at the baggage check queue, navigating a detour on the highway, or waiting out a storm at the hotel, think about the amount of data being created and consumed. And remember that there’s probably a hard-working HPC machine behind it all.
Calista Redmond is Director of OpenPOWER Global Alliances at IBM, leading OpenPOWER strategic relationships including execution of commercialization strategies, development and business projects, and primary matchmaker to opportunities across the broader OpenPOWER community. Calista serves as IBM’s director on the OpenPOWER Board and President of the Foundation, with a mission to guide the success of the OpenPOWER community and proliferation of POWER in the industry. Calista’s background includes building and executing strategic business models within IBM’s Systems Group through open source initiatives including OpenDaylight and OpenPOWER, numerous acquisition and divestiture missions, and several strategic alliances. Prior to joining IBM, she was an entrepreneur in four successful startups in the IT industry. She holds degrees from the University of Michigan and Northwestern University.
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