High-performance computing (HPC) is fueling innovation across Federal agencies. While there is a long journey ahead, one agency is leading the way and embracing this technology – the Department of Defense (DoD). HPC is critical to the mission of the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Crane – and of the DoD as whole.

Often, power and speed constrain computation – and there is a vital need to implement technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and deep learning (DL) to drive success. The data architects and scientists at NSWC Crane performing AI, ML, and DL work require a standard, purpose-built platform on which to run critical training workloads at scale while significantly reducing compute times.

NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with mission areas in Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions, and Electronic Warfare. It is responsible for multi-domain, multi-spectral, full lifecycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability of today’s Warfighter.

The team at NSWC Crane implemented a data infrastructure called Artificial Intelligence Ready Infrastructure (AIRI) into its open Research, Development, Test, and Engineering Network (RDTE) to enable AI at-scale, faster, and in a more repeatable way. AIRI is the first AI-ready infrastructure. Architected by Pure Storage and powered by NVIDIA, AIRI is a purpose-built, fully integrated, converged infrastructure stack that enables data architects, scientists, and agencies to support a production scale end-to-end AI pipeline.

AIRI provides data architects and scientists with a tool to run critical training workloads at scale while significantly reducing compute times. Before AIRI, these workloads required custom machines, which were often cost-prohibitive, not easily replicated, and time-consuming to build. In contrast, AIRI provides a standardized and scalable platform for the Federal R&D enterprise. With the contract, NSWC Crane has access to top tier data science services from industry leaders. This allows the agency to align data strategy with data engineering pre-test and development to significantly accelerate the time to insight and prevent projects from being delayed, running over budget, or falling by the wayside.

In the long term, the use of AIRI helps military data strategists and practitioners future-proof their architecture with an adaptable end-to-end data-driven tech stack that supports AI/ML, DL, and HPC as well as the connected data-driven systems of the future.

Once implemented, AIRI was meeting the needs of the data science community at NSWC Crane – but there was not a solution available for more secure work. Not long after the AIRI implementation on NSWC Crane’s open RDTE network, it was clear the technology would be beneficial across the DoD’s secure computing environments. The agency procured a second AIRI under the existing contract to be placed on another RDTE network for secure projects – and now anyone with access to the RDTE network can leverage the platform.

After implementation on multiple open and secure environments, AIRI was available on the Navy High Performance Computing Catalog – a dedicated and pre-competed ordering vehicle populated with products and/or services that provide agencies with speed and flexibility, offering “point and click, on-demand purchasing” with no restrictions on the quantity purchased or frequency of usage. This catalog allows other groups within the Navy to replicate an AIRI to use on both open and secure networks. This widespread availability has the potential for a broad impact.

The AIRI solution has the potential to make big changes across the Navy. It’s availability on the Navy High Performance Computing Catalog allows for rapid procurement, standardization of hardware, and ease of procurement, and allows for technical refreshes over 5-10 years. The solution provides robust capability to NSWC Crane’s key technology thrust areas – impacting each mission area and a wide variety of customers across the DoD.

With the initial implementation, NSWC Crane transformed how data architectures and scientists run critical training workloads – and seamlessly expand these capabilities across the DoD. AIRI offers autonomous capability to use and there is no ceiling – opening the door for significant mission-critical innovation.

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MeriTalk Staff