Demystifying the @ihubCluster for the average Wangechi, Waititu, Alai and Mama Mboga minds

Jan 22, 2013 8 Comments by

Divide and conquer! Less gives more.

And so you have heard. The iHub Cluster is live. She purrs and we haven’t even started nuthin yet. I can add.

But what does “cluster” even mean? What does it do? Will it make Burritos? How does it help the common Mwananchi?

Questions!! So, this blog post is inspired by the classic and legendary Kenyan question. “Itanisaidia mimi aje?”.

My neighbour, Musyoka, asked me: “Na Mbwana Saarim, hii kiRasta naskia umetengenesa ni nini? Inakulaga nini supper? Inalalaga na ngodha ama commando?”. I laughed. “The shiite that I do is too complex for simple minds to even comprehend”, I thought to myself.

But soon, I realized something. If you cannot explain what you do to a 5-year-old or your grandma, then you really DON’T fully understand what you are doing.

Ofcourse, there is an exception to my willingness to explain complex things in a simple manner. For example, I remember, last week, I was busy “configuring Torque and PBS to work with MAUI across the GPUS on the DMZ-ed Infiniband .13 lan” when someone barged in and asked: “Salim, what are you working on?”. This was annoying for some reason, I had 5 shell terminals open and could NOT be disrupted. And I think I was callous, because I said: “If I explained what I am doing to you, your brain would explode.” And got back to work. He left.

But today, I will be different and calm. Twende step by step. Taking our time. Just me and you. Usijali neighbors. Wamezoea nduru. Poa?

What the cluster is?

Think of a bicycle. It is one FAST mofo. Especially BMX and Black-Mamba. Can come from Junction to KNH in 10 mins flat. That is a high-end commodity server. Like the ones Safaricom uses for the Cloud. Very good for basic computing stuff.

Now, compare that BMX with a Bugatti. Junction to KNH in 0.000001 seconds.

One BMX has 8 to 16 cores, whole one cluster NODE has 3,076 cores. So when you think BIG expensive Servers, think Bike. When you think Cluster, think Bugatti.

OffTopic: I really want to benchmark the Safaricom USD 25M cloud with the USD 15k cluster that we have at iHub. Man vs Boy.

Now, what it can do – Practically – In Kenya

Word in the streets has it that it takes about 4 days for a Music video to be produced in Kenya. Shooting etc, then the video needs to be encoded with high-power machines that are only available commercially in Germany. So there is one day to upload, 2 days to be queued and encoded. The 1 day to download.

What this means is that if 2 artists have a video ready (and established one like Nameless and a new one, let us call him CampusMulla), then the producer needs to make a business decision. Whose music goes first. Nameless wins. CampusMulla remains un-aired.

Now, with the ISIOLO Cluster (remaned to iHubCluster), the only requirement for the music producer would be a 10MB vLan between their office/studio and iHub. And they can upload the video in 5 minutes, use the web interface we will provide to change encoding setting etc, then click ‘GO’, and download their video 2 minutes later.

Using the sheer raw POWER of the cluster, in 10 minutes, they will be able to do what they do in 4 days. More videos, more employment, more artists.

Ok. Good. That is one PRACTICAL use. Niendelee?

I think you get the point, Waititu. Au vipi?

So, what next?

Relax. Right now we have 2 nodes up and by Feb week 2, we will have 4. Then I will call for applications for people interested in being trained kuwa wanoma. To develop cluster apps. No previous knowledge required. Just make sure you can read English.

No more desktop ama sijui website coding. Advanced stuff. Still works on Web and Desktop. But cluster powered.

Tulia.

Back to code.

Wazi.

Coding, Google and Africa, Personal

About the author

Coder, hacker, inventor, pool guru.

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