Microsoft Launches Windows Server 2003 Compute Cluster Beta

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2005-09-15 Print this article Print

The first public beta of the product addresses the high-performance computing needs of Microsoft's customers, particularly at the departmental and workgroup levels.

LOS ANGELES—Microsoft Corp. this week released the first public beta for its Windows Server 2003 Compute Cluster Edition, which is designed to address the high-performance computing needs of its customers, particularly at the departmental and workgroup levels, and forms part of the Windows Server line of products. The announcement of the beta, which is functionally complete, will be made during the keynote address by Microsoft Senior Vice President Bob Muglia at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference here on Thursday morning. Beta 1 of Windows Server 2003 Compute Cluster Solution is available for download via Microsoft Connect and will be available to attendees of PDC.
Microsoft plans just one product SKU, and the product is expected to be released to manufacturing in the first half of 2006, officials told eWEEK.
Microsoft officials first announced it was entering the HPC software market in June 2004 and said at that time that the product would be specifically designed for customers running scalable, parallel computing workloads in vertical market segments such as engineering, life sciences and finance. Company officials such as CEO Steve Ballmer have also admitted that Linux is ahead in the area of high-performance computing, but have said Microsofts staff comes to work every day looking at how to offer customers an even better solution. Click here to read Ballmers remarks on HPC and his vision for the midmarket segment. Muglia will also use his keynote to talk about how Excel has become a mission-critical application, and he will announce a new Excel Server, a source familiar with the contents of Muglias keynote told eWEEK. In addition, Muglia will talk about how Microsoft is bringing HPC-class capabilities to business applications, the source said. The Windows Server 2003 Compute Cluster Edition beta, which is feature-complete, will only undergo performance tuning between now and the Supercomputing Conference in Seattle in November. The early-deployment customer program will begin in January 2006, with general availability in the first half of the year, John Borozan, Microsoft senior product manager, told eWEEK. Those ISVs who dominated the HPC space had a heritage of developing for the top of the HPC pyramid—the supercomputers—and are now looking to move down, while Microsoft, for its part, is starting from its legacy with infrastructure and workstations and is moving up. The Windows Server 2003 Compute Cluster Edition is the first Microsoft product to include open-source technology. Click here to read more. "So, there is a meeting of priorities between us and the ISVs, and for them this is a tremendous opportunity as they probably already have a Windows workstation product and they understand the complexity associated with developing for multiple versions of Linux and they want their applications to be seen by a wider audience, which we can do for them," Borozan said. Figures released by research firm IDC show that the technical computing server market is growing by leaps and bounds, gaining some 70 percent in 2004, with the percentage of users running clusters also growing rapidly, particularly at the workgroup and departmental level, Borozan said. "That push of HPC clusters to the departmental and workgroup level is hitting a confluence of Microsoft products, with Windows being used at the workstation level for day-to-day computing tasks, while we are seeing enterprises increasingly asking for a technical computing infrastructure," he said. Next Page: Hardware advances, costs plummet.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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