[Beowulf] How Can Microsoft's HPC Server Succeed?

Jim Lux james.p.lux at jpl.nasa.gov
Fri Apr 4 06:11:24 PDT 2008

Quoting Mehmet Suzen <mehmet.suzen at gmail.com>, on Thu 03 Apr 2008  
02:35:48 PM PDT:

> On Thu, Apr 3, 2008 at 12:44 AM, Greg Byshenk <gbyshenk at byshenk.net> wrote:
>> On Wed, Apr 02, 2008 at 03:04:28PM -0700, Jon Forrest wrote:
>>  > But, the question remains. How can Microsoft compete with free?
>>  > How much better will they have to be than standard Linux
>>  > clusters before they get any mainstream interest? What technical
>>  > features could they add that couldn't be added to a Linux
>>  > cluster?
>>  The thing to remember is that a cluster (even one running "free" --
>>  as in beer -- software) is not without cost. Apart from hardware,
>>  licenses (if required), etc., a business will also have to find
>>  (and pay) someone to build and maintain the cluster.
> It is VERY important to be clear about one point. This argument must
> NOT imply that using proprietary software to built a cluster does not
> require any
> work-force (someone) or no training needed to operate it. At the end  
>  of the day
> building a cluster is a  technological business,  you  need to hire
> someone or a monkey in order to click on buttons for installation or
> maintenance.

But, when you say "build and maintain" a cluster, do you mean  
separately ordering all the machines, routers, cables, racking, and  
installing them and getting them working (and then the followon  
maintenance of installing new versions of software from the vendors,  
cleaning air filters)...

At this level, you're pretty OS-independent.  It's only when you need  
to start "developing" new software for this putative small cluster  
that the environment becomes really important.

It's pretty much a given that any sort of *commercial* cluster  
distribution, whether shrink wrap from Redmond or carefully crafted by  
one of the cluster vendors on this list will come with some reasonable  
set of tools to do things like reboot, manage jobs, etc.  If the user  
interface for those tools resembles the user interface that your  
would-be admin is familiar with (e.g. Microsoft Management Console,  
etc.) then all is good.

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