Microsoft Advances into High-End Clustering

The software giant also announces the release candidate for Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2.

Microsofts foray into the high-end clustering software market took a step forward May 8 with the availability of the release candidate for its Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 product, a 64-bit operating system for industry-standard x64 processors.

And, at the other end of the software spectrum, the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant also announced the release candidate for Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2 on May 8.

The Windows Compute Cluster Server product will mark a milestone for Microsoft when released later this summer as it is a late-comer to a market largely dominated by open-source Linux software.

But Microsoft officials say they are committed for the long term to HPC (high-performance computing), as well as to a broader technical and scientific computing area.

Microsoft released the first, limited Windows Compute Cluster beta at its Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles in September 2005, with company chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates announcing the second beta at the Supercomputing show in Seattle in November 2005.

/zimages/5/28571.gifTo read more about Microsofts Windows Compute Cluster Server, click here.

Kyril Faenov, Microsofts director for HPC (high-performance computing), told eWEEK previously that there are three main pillars for Microsoft: business computing; consumer computing; and, now, technical and scientific computing, an area in which there is room for many software advances.

Microsoft will release a single 64-bit-only version of CCS 2003, which will also run on all the hardware platforms supported by Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1, on which it is based.

All the major OEMs, including IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Dell and NEC Solutions America, as well as the major interconnect vendors, have announced support for the product, Faenov said.

"We are going to work with our hardware partners to tailor the systems to particular market scenarios and then to do benchmarks and evidence generation for key applications," he said.

Asked what its strategy is toward the Linux and open-source community, given Linuxs dominance in the HPC field and the fact that Microsoft is including the MPI (Message Passing Interface) in the product, Faenov said Microsoft has no such strategy per se.

"Our strategy is to deliver the best value and help grow the market, and we are making very pragmatic choices based on specific requirements we hear partners or customers want. MPI was an example of this, and if there are other places where this makes sense for us, our customers and/or partners, well look at them," Faenov said.

/zimages/5/28571.gifClick here to read more about how open-source code found its way into Windows Compute Cluster Server.

Some users, such as David Robert, a systems manager for a global consulting and engineering company in Cambridge, Mass., are hoping that Microsoft will be successful in making a product that is easier to use than Linux.

Next Page: Meeting goals.