Monday, September 22, 2008

HPC Server 2008 RTM!

Congrats to Kyril Faenov, Ryan Waite, and the rest of the HPC team up in Redmond.

Today at the HPC on Wall Street show in New York, Microsoft announced that the second version of their high performance computing tool has been released to manufacturing.

I got to sit down with Kyril (who runs the HPC team) back at Super Computing. He talked about some of the new features coming in the latest version, and broke them into four categories:

  1. Scalability: They really want to address the top end of the market, which meant adding features to ensure that Windows clusters can scale as large as the big Linux clusters. That included addressing issues all over the place, from their MPI stack (by the way, they're seeing a 30% improvement in LINPACK) to their management tools.
  2. Ease of use: More is available out of the box, including better management tools, improved diagnostics, and reporting capabilities.
  3. Integration with other applications: The HPC team worked overtime to improve integration with all sorts of stuff, from Microsoft's own tools (like System Center and Active Directory) to shared storage from other vendors (like Panassas, Ibrix, and IBM) and standards groups (HPC Basic Profile, GGF, etc).
  4. Applications: Kyril mentioned that more and more "traditional" ISVs are now running on Windows. By "traditional," of course, he meant "traditionally running on Linux or Unix clusters."
What's interesting to me is what Kyril didn't emphasize (and, indeed, what's barely mentioned in today's press release): their new .NET tools for load balancing SOA applications using the WCF Router, and their integration with Windows Clustering to provide head-node failover for high availability. 

Maybe they're not important enough to emphasize in the PR, but they address some needs that many users have wanted (better development tools, including their first real foray into .NET development tools, and a good strategy for high-availability applications).

Following on last week's announcement of a partnership with Cray, it's clear that Microsoft is working to expand the footprint that they've created with the first version of this product, which was called Compute Cluster Server.

I'm not sure if they've announced anything official about prices, but Kyril said that CCS's price point (as much as 80% off a full Server 2003 license) had been "very well received." So I don't expect a price change.

By the way, I asked Kyril about the name change -- did the words "high performance" mean that they were ready to take on the upper echelons of the Top 500 list?

Kyril smiled. "We've earned our stripes."

With an entry at number 23 in the latest list, I guess that's starting to be true.

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