Containers in High Performance Computing

Mr Mark Gray1, Dr Marco De La Pierre1, Dr Ben Menadue2

1Pawsey Supercomputing Centre, Kensington, Australia, 2NCI, Canberra, Australia


This hands-on workshop teaches containers in the context of high performance computing, in both cloud and supercomputing environments.  Staff from Australia’s two tier-1 supercomputing centres, NCI and the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre, will facilitate the workshop.

Containers allow applications to be bundled into a single, lightweight piece of software that provides everything needed to run them, including software dependencies, runtimes, system libraries, and configurations.  Containers enable moving software and workflows between systems with minimal effort.  The software can be distributed to collaborators with reliable results.

Both Pawsey and NCI support users running Docker containers within their cloud services.

NCI currently use containers as a way of providing newer operating system features not available in the base OS image of Raijin. This allows provision of more modern operating system runtimes, without causing compatibility issues for existing users.  Similarly, Pawsey supports using containers on Magnus and Zeus.


Mr Gray brings a strong research and data management background to the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre.  He manages all aspects of the research cloud service at Pawsey (called Nimbus), which is utilised by researchers around the globe.  His activities include procurement, deployment, training, user expectation management – and leadership of the team who administer and operate the service.

Mr Gray represents the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre both nationally and internationally, with respect to the use of Nimbus.  He also provides project management skills for projects of key strategic importance to the Centre.

Marco completed a PhD in Materials Science, specialising in theoretical and computational chemistry. Joining Pawsey in 2018, he engages with researchers in the fields of computational materials science, computational chemistry and bioinformatics. Building on his experience in scientific software development, Marco has recently being focused on improving efficiency and throughput of bioinformatics pipelines through container technology and workflow management tools.

Ben Menadue has a PhD in computational physics, specifically Lattice Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD) .  Ben was a user of both NCI and Pawsey systems for his research before joining NCI..  Ben is a senior HPC systems specialist at NCI, with activities of managing systems through to supporting and training users


AeRO is the industry association focused on eResearch in Australasia. We play a critical coordination role for our members, who are actively transforming research via Information Technology. Organisations join AeRO to advance their own capabilities and services, to collaborate and to network with peers. AeRO believes researchers and the sector significantly benefit from greater communication, coordination and sharing among the increasingly different and evolving service providers.

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