SC17 Denver, CO

Containers in HPC

Authors: Dr. Richard Canon (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

Abstract: Containers are rapidly gaining traction in HPC because they promise significantly greater software flexibility, reliability, and portability for users. We will provide an opportunity to engage with leaders who are developing container solutions (e.g., Charliecloud, Singularity, and Shifter) and promoting the container model. The agenda includes an overview of container options for HPC environments and use cases they are enabling, as well as an interactive period to ask questions and share experiences. A key goal of the session is to understand and develop an agenda for solving questions and concerns that are holding back broader adoption.

Long Description: Container computing has revolutionized the way groups are developing, sharing, and running software. This has been led by the growth of Docker which has provided an ecosystem of tools to enable container computing. This paradigm shift is now making in-roads in the HPC community enabled by tools like Singular, Shifter and Charliecloud which allow end-users to securely run containers in environments where standard Docker tools would not be feasible. While this adoption is growing, the larger HPC community still has many questions around this new model. In this Birds-of-Feather we will bring together the experts in the field of containers and HPC to describe the tools they’ve developed, share their experiences and engage in interactive discussions with the audience on this topic. Given the recent increase in interest surrounding containers, we expect this BOF to be a very popular topic at SC with particular applicability towards to the greater HPC community. The goals of this BOF are to: introduce the community to the various solutions; share experiences; promote the use of containers in HPC; and build a community of enthusiasts who can help promote this new model and facilitate its further adoption.

Our panel of experts include the developers of the three leading HPC Container solutions (Charliecloud, Shifter, and Singularity). We will also have panelists and session leaders who have direct experience using these solutions and experience working with end-users to applying these tools to enable their work. Several of the panelists already have accepted papers and tutorials around this topic which should also broaden interest and participation.

Through interactive discussion we will explore the level of adoption, barriers to adoption as well as how sites are already making use of containers in HPC. We will use online and show-of-hand survey questions and other tools to encourage the audience to participate in the discussion. Some of the questions we hope to cover are: Who is currently using some form of HPC Container computing at their site or in their work? Who is currently not using containers but currently exploring or planning to use containers in the future? What are some of the barriers to adoption at your site? What aspects of this model are attracting you to use or plan to use containers? What are some of the gaps or challenges is applying this model to your use cases? How should the community work together to further promote containers in HPC?

In addition to helping to build a network of new proponents for this model, other outcomes from this BOF will include responses to survey questions to help guide the development community and identifying mechanisms for community engagement and discussion such as email list or web-based collaboration sites.

Conference Presentation: pdf

Birds of a Feather Index