IT managers have trouble understanding the goals of high performance computing (HPC) users, General Motors HPC manager told delegates at the annual US conference on the discipline.

"IT, surprisingly – despite the 'T' in IT – are not technical. They're almost bureaucratic, so you've got to watch out for that," warned Sharan Kalwani who manages HPC for the US carmaker.

"They want the lowest-cost solution, and that's a battle that you find starting from Day One," he said.

Kalwani conducted a four-hour tutorial with the aim of giving HPC managers an overview of IT management basics. Among the topics covered were ROI, service level agreements (SLAs) and portfolio management.

As the scientifically weighted HPC culture increasingly comes under CIOs' management responsibilities, companies are looking to control costs as well as integrate HPC processes into the business.

But Kalawani urged managers to adapt mainstream IT processes. The benefit of which, would be "improved quality, definitely reduced costs and actually more wide acceptance," he said.

Irving Wladawsky-Berger, IBM's vice president of technical strategy and innovation, believes large businesses have crossed a dividing line separating HPC systems from IT. But he said CIOs will have to learn more about these systems as their capabilities are used more often in commercial applications, he added.

"Traditional CIOs need more of the kinds of skills that before were only found in the HPC world," said Wladawsky-Berg