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ScaleMP Adds Cloud Virtualization for Servers

Most virtualization efforts are built around one physical server running multiple virtual servers, to maximize utilization, but ScaleMP does things in reverse. It takes multiple physical servers and makes them all look like one massive virtual server.

Such trickery is how most of the supercomputers on the Top500 list operate. They populate an area the size of a basketball court with x86 servers and make it look like just a few servers through software, allowing all of the CPU cores and memory to be combined into a server that would otherwise be virtually impossible to build.

ScaleMP does this on a smaller scale, letting a datacenter put a handful of servers together for high performance computing jobs. Today it fills out its line of software products by adding a new product for cloud computing environments.

vSMP Foundation for Cloud is specifically designed for environments that are already provisioned and set up as cloud computing environments. It's for those moments when you might want to turn off your low-priority services for a few hours to run a massive processing job.

Every company faces times like that. Perhaps at the end of the month or quarter it has to do a batch processing task, such as reports, that are massively CPU and memory-intensive. With vSMP other services like file and print or e-mail are shut down or given lower priority and a large number of cores and memory can be dedicated to the processing task.

When the task ends, the services that had been shut down are restarted or fully provisioned. All of this is done without any human intervention required, according to Shai Fultheim, founder and president of ScaleMP.

vSMP Foundation for Cloud can aggregate of up to 16 x86 servers, dual- or quad-core, to create a virtual SMP system image with up to 128 cores and 4TB of main memory. ScaleMP provides just the virtualization part. The job scheduling and resource management is done by others.

"There are plenty of products out there now, like the Sun Grid Engine and Moab Adaptive Computing Suite. So instead of developing our own, we developed the product in a way so it has all the hooks for them to provision us. They've been doing that for years, so we leave it to them," he told InternetNews.com.

A cheaper alternative

Cloud support is the primary difference between vSMP Foundation for Cloud and the other products from ScaleMP. vSMP Foundation for SMP is for jobs that need a large number of cores and memory and is usually sold to firms putting in large numbers of x86 servers as a cheaper alternative to massive proprietary systems.

vSMP Foundation for Cluster is for managing a group of servers in a small number of systems. In both cases, the loads are more static and the provisioning doesn't change. With the Cloud product, provisioning is more dynamic and the processing jobs might move around between physical systems, since that's how cloud computing works; it does not tie a workload to a particular physical machine.

In addition to on-the-fly aggregated virtual machine provisioning and tear-down, vSMP Foundation for Cloud offers memory scaling and aggregation, prevents resource fragmentation, supports a variety of memory models like serial, throughput, multi-threaded and large-memory, and allows for network installation.

Tied together

ScaleMP also announced the release of Direct Connect 2, a software clustering solution that gets rid of the need for a switch. In a clustering environment, the common solution to build a large virtual system image is to tie several dual socket servers – the workhorse of the server market – together and connect them via Infiniband through a high-speed switch.

The problem is no matter how fast the switch may be, this creates latency as data has to go out of the systems and through the switch. Direct Connect 2 simply eliminates the need for the switch.

Four dual-socket servers can be tied together using Infiniband wires – each server has three cables to connect to the other three – creating a virtual server with eight sockets and multiple terabytes of memory.

The alternative, noted Fultheim, is to purchase an eight-way server, which is fairly rare on the market and costly.

"We saw a trend on the low end where x86 customers were looking for bigger systems, but these systems are hard to find and very expensive. With our system we can provide anywhere from 30 to 50 percent better performance than a proprietary eight-socket system at less cost," he said.

Both vSMP Foundation for Cloud and Direct Connect 2 will be available December 1 from ScaleMP.