IBM aims to make computing clusters easier

Big Blue launches initiatives to help SMBs integrate servers into clusters for high-performance computing tasks

It may be too early to talk plug-and-play but IBM believes it can help businesses of all sizes easily cluster their servers to handle intensive computing workloads.

Leveraging its expertise in high-end computing and vertical industry applications, IBM has launched several initiatives to allow small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) and the departments of large enterprises to integrate their servers -- from as few as two to many thousands -- into computing clusters designed for high-performance computing tasks, the company said Wednesday.

Initially targeted at the businesses in the life sciences, computer-aided engineering, and finance sectors, IBM will offer preconfigured "snap-together" cluster systems for customers using the company's computers and storage devices. The systems are designed to run on Linux and Microsoft Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 operating systems and will include networking technology from companies such as Cisco Systems.

The collaboration with Microsoft will allow businesses to use parallel processing on clusters to free up client machines from long-running applications.

ISVs (independent software vendors) and business partners will receive tools to help them introduce IBM's cluster systems. These include sizing guides with predefined cluster configurations for simple ordering and installation. IBM business partners have access to the company's Cluster Enablement Team for technical questions and advice.

For customers, software vendors and business partners running Microsoft cluster servers, IBM has four new benchmarking facilities in Poughkeepsie, New York, Raleigh, North Carolina, Beaverton, Oregon and Montpelier, France. These centers join a network of global Linux benchmark centers.

To attract businesses interested in computing clusters, IBM's Deep Computing Capacity on Demand centers will give them access to more than 20,000 processors to test the technology for themselves.

IBM offers a range of products that support computing clusters, including its System x, System p and BladeCenter servers, as well as the IBM System Storage and IBM System Cluster 1350.

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