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Clustering For the Rest of Us

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- IBM took the wraps off a variety of pre-packaged and pre-tested cluster servers targeted toward small to mid-size organizations Tuesday.

Under the marketing name of "Departmental Supercomputing Solutions," the Armonk, N.Y.-based company is targeting universities, departments within universities and research companies with a combination of IBM eServers like its Intel Xeon-based BladeCenter HS20, AMD Opteron-based e325 and xSeries 335 and xSeries 345 systems.

The company said the management server acts as the single point of administration for all cluster resources, which communicates with the other servers in the cluster over a highly secure Ethernet virtual LAN (VLAN).

Each of the offerings also has a separate Gigabit Ethernet VLAN to interconnect all servers for application inter-node communications and a terminal server network for remote console applications.

"We've identified nine different optimization tools for the little guy getting started," Art Wieboldt, IBM Departmental Supercomputing Solutions marketing manager told internetnews.com. "The next step is application specific clusters. For that we are targeting key ISVs and key industries."

Wieboldt said the ramp up of enterprise clusters is based on the availability of less expensive, over-the-counter hardware such as 2-way and 4-way servers and the fact that so many of these systems are already in data centers. For IBM's customers, Wieboldt said reliability and security remain the hot button issues.

IBM said the systems range from around $25,000 for a baseline system to $35,000 to $38,000 for an average Xeon- or Opteron-based system. At the top of the line, IBM said it offers 32 node system made up of two-way blade servers for roughly $200,000. The company said the prepackaged systems can also easily fit into its e-business On Demand Center in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Once the exclusive domain of governments, large-scale universities and Fortune 500 enterprises, clustering servers and workstations together is trickling down to small- to medium-size businesses (SMB).

IBM is one of several companies turning the enterprise onto supercomputing aspects during this week's ClusterWorld Conference here.

IBM has also received support from a variety of HPC software tool vendors, including Sunnyvale, Calif.-based PathScale. The two companies announced a joint marketing deal Tuesday that tailors PathScale's AMD64-optimized Linux compiler suite to IBM HPC customers on a global basis.

IBM said it will offer a trial version of the PathScale EKO Compiler Suite, including C, C++ and Fortran 77/90/95 compilers, with one of its new Departmental Supercomputing Solutions based on the IBM eServer 325.

Annual subscription fees for the complete PathScale Compiler Suite start at $1,495 per license, the company said in a statement. The license includes software, updates, upgrades and support services.



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