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Server Specs: Microsoft ready for HPC launch

Server Specs: Microsoft to release software package that runs high-performance computing (HPC) applications in parallel

Aiming to do for the cluster market what it did in the server market, Microsoft announced it has released to manufacturing a software package that runs high-performance computing (HPC) applications in parallel, available for evaluation next week with general availability to purchase scheduled for August.

Windows Compute Cluster 2003 is a landmark for Microsoft in that it is its first such HPC offering, a late entrant into a market currently dominated by Linux.

More on HPC, blades:

Supercomputers come off the shelf, skills don't

State of the blade: Report from the Server Blade Summit

The software aims to let multiple servers team up on HPC tasks, run on 64-bit chips and integrate with existing Windows infrastructure and tools, and will sell for an about $469 per node, depending on license and volume.

Kyril Faenov, director of high-performance computing at Microsoft, said the software will help solve complicated problems at the workgroup level and will show customers that HPC is not strictly useful for science and engineering applications.

"It will indeed bring HPC to mainstream users," Faenov said, claiming its potential to crunch financial data via MS Excel. "Used by people with existing Windows skill sets, they don't need to be super-computing experts to take advantage of this opportunity."

One early adopter, though, is academic.

"Adopting Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 was a natural step for us since we use SQL Server for our database needs and Windows servers for hosting our Web interfaces," said Dr. Jaroslaw Pillardy, senior research associate at Cornell University's computational biology department. "In addition to serving massively-parallel applications, I've found that Windows Compute Cluster Server is a convenient tool for serving the computational needs of many small projects, where installing the software, updating databases and managing other such tasks are much easier than on a set of separate computers."

But Gordon Haff, principal IT advisor at Nashua, N.H.-based Illuminata Inc., doesn't see a big market splash.

"I don't see Microsoft gaining significantly in traditional areas," Haff said. "Linux is the incumbent, and I don't really see this changing the landscape now or down the line. It's cultural as well as technical issues. The people who are doing HPC have been using Unix and Linux forever on inexpensive hardware. But in more commercial HPC avenues like business intelligence and data mining, as opposed to scientific computing, there is more opportunity [for Microsoft] because they're not such an outsider."

Microsoft company executives will demonstrate the Computer Cluster Server 2003 during a keynote this Sunday night at the Tech-Ed 2006 conference in Boston (June 11-16), where evaluation versions will be provided to attendees.

Venture capitalist firm to invest $100M in IBM BladeCenter

Venture capitalist firm Walden International announced it will invest $100 million over the next five years to help develop IBM BladeCenter technology and drive the growth of global blade server computing. IBM and Hewlett-Packard Co. own most of the blade market, which is expected to grow from an estimated $2.2 billion in 2005 to approximately $10 billion in 2010, according to IDC. More than half of the money will be aimed at companies in the Asian-Pacific market, according to IBM. It also announced the addition of 17 new members to Blade.org roster, which was formed earlier this year and exists to foster collaborative development of blade technologies. "I'm a big believer in the future of the datacenter built on blades, which are solving fundamental problems, such as power and cooling issues, space restrictions and provide an excellent platform for virtualization," said Lip-Bu Tan, founder and chairman, Walden International.

Symantec products now available on some IBM Power processor-based servers

Symantec Corp. announced an agreement with IBM this week on its new support for the Power processor-based servers in the System p line running Linux, broadening the customer base for each and giving IBM customers more choices for storage management and backup products. The software and support is expected to be available by the end of this year. "You can't be a standard for them unless you support the breadth of the environment," said Ted Stinson, director of strategic operations at Symantec. "Linux on Power is proof of support of that breadth." Karl Freund, IBM vice president of System p, said the two companies have worked well together on IBM's Unix platform, AIX. He said that some customers, however, wanted to use Linux but still wanted that Symantec support. Now they can get it. "It's just a question of what the customer wants," Freund said. "Now we can say that if a customer wants Linux and Symantec, we can provide that on the Power architecture."

MTI to acquire Collective Technology

MTI Technology Corp. announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire the assets of Collective Technologies, a provider of enterprise-class IT infrastructure products and services, such as planning and executing complex data center relocations and has over 90 consultants. The acquisition is intended to boost MTI's vision of helping companies maximize the value of their technology investments by providing end-to-end solutions for information and infrastructure management.

CA, Arkivio team up to create CA File System Manager

CA Inc. and Arkivio Inc. have announced an agreement that matches Arkivio's Auto-Stor file management software with CA's BrightStor email archiving and recovery. It will market the product as CA File System Manager. Now available, it will cost $4,000 per terabyte based on the amount of data the product will manage. Officials for both companies said it now gives customers a way to manage email and files in one system, making organization and compliance with federal regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley easier. "We looked at all the solutions that were out there in terms of evaluating a partnership," said Mike Gundling, CA vice president of product management about teaming up with a company that provides file management. "We've been talking to the folks at Arkivio for over a year and found their solution to be without peer." "We had a very similar story," added Buzz Walker, Arkivio vice president of marketing. "We were working with customers on the file system side, and they were asking us about the email side."

BMC releases more business service management products, updates

BMC Software Inc. has released the second wave of its business service management products meant to help companies better organize their IT departments and keep track of problems. The company says the new software updates help companies keep track of incidents and organize them according to how critical they are to the running of the business. BMC said it has made it easier for data center managers to see and manage more information, making compliance and reporting easier. "A lot of time data center folks are monitoring servers and see all these lights going off, so then they have to go out and figure out the business context," said Andrej Vlahcevic, BMC senior solutions marketing manager. "By the time they figure that out, the problem could get worse. They're extra steps that we're trying to reduce." Stephen Elliot, research manager at Framingham, Mass.-based analyst firm IDC, said BMC is trying hard to push its product integrations across ITIL processes and with the most recent announcements is doing it with problem and incident management. "What's critical for customers is that they assess their adoption of BMC tools and press the company on current integrations and the integration roadmap," he wrote in an email.

IBM DB2 9 Viper set for late July release

IBM announced DB2 9, aka Viper, a hybrid database server the company claims will handle major forms of unstructured enterprise data such as XML documents, will ship July 28. Viper will allow developers to produce applications that direct DB2 to store and retrieve data without indicating whether it is structured or unstructured, according to IBM. Other enhancements include autonomic data management capabilities and storage compression alleged to allow faster database queries. DB2 9 Express will start at $4,874 per processor or $165 per user, with a five-user minimum.

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