Penguin Computing Grows Virtualization Capabilities

New Scyld ClusterWare will let administrators run multiple Linux platforms in a single cluster.

BOSTON—Penguin Computing officials say theyve been doing virtualization for several years through their cluster products, turning a group of individual physical machines into a virtual single server.

Now the San Francisco company wants to expand its capabilities by offering a product that enables what most people think of virtualization: taking individual physical servers and partitioning them into multiple virtual machines.

At the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo here—where virtualization has been a key topic of conversation—Penguin rolled out its new Scyld ClusterWare portfolio (and dropped the term "Beowulf" from the software line), which offers support for multiple Linux platforms on a single cluster and a suite of applications targeted at the life sciences sector, the first of several industry-specific offerings planned by Penguin.

The goal is to expand what the company has been doing for years in the high-performance computing field into the commercial space, and being able to run multiple Linux platforms on a single cluster is a key to such a strategy, said Penguin CTO Donald Becker.

The capability of running multiple operating systems on a single cluster will be further enhanced later this year when chip makers Advanced Micro Devices and Intel bring widespread deployment of their respective hardware-based virtualization technology to their processors.

/zimages/1/28571.gifTo read more about Intel and AMDs virtualization push, click here.

That technology will enable Penguin to run instances of Windows and Linux in the same cluster, Becker said.

"Weve been saying we do virtual clusters, running multiple machines as a single system," Becker said.

"Right now, we can run a single system image across the cluster. The challenge was, we wanted to run multiple [Linux] kernels across a single cluster."

The cluster software will enable users to do just that, he said.

In HPC environments, oftentimes users run the same Linux platform. However, commercial software often needs to run on different platforms from one another, forcing enterprises to use different Linux operating systems or kernels, he said.

Scyld ClusterWares cluster virtualization capabilities let users create virtual machines on top of physical systems within a cluster—allowing for the multiple Linux platforms within the same cluster—and still present back to the administrators data from both the physical and virtual machines in a single-system fashion through a single point-of-command, or "master," Becker said.

"What people want is a way to manage dozens or hundreds of [physical and virtual] machines from a single place," he said.

/zimages/1/28571.gifRead more here about Microsofts virtualization discussion at LinuxWorld.

The on-chip virtualization from Intel and AMD will only expand Penguins platform reach, making its software even more attractive to enterprises, he said.

An important aspect of Penguins virtualization software is Scyld ClusterWares "just in time" provisioning capabilities, where rather than simply creating a full server in a virtualized environment, the compute nodes take only the resources they need from the master to run whatever workload is assigned, Becker said.

It allows administrators to provision a virtual machine in seconds, rather than the minutes needed for traditional virtual environments, he said.

In addition, the softwares "multiple masters" capabilities allow administrators to grow and shrink a pool of virtual resources on demand.

Users can run the Scyld ClusterWare on top of an integrated Linux OS from CentOS or versions of Red Hats Enterprise Linux ES that can support the software.

In the new Life Sciences Suite, Penguin is offering a centralized management dashboard and pre-certified open-source applications for the industry that is ready to run on the Penguin software. The suite is built on Terra Soft Solutions Y-Bio version 1.1, a platform aimed at the industry.

Pauline Nist, senior vice president of product development and management at Penguin, said the life sciences offering was the first of several the company is planning for particular industries that use HPC environments, such as oil and gas.

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