Microsoft has built a strategy around the planned early-November release of its high-performance computing server that it hopes will be the catalyst to deliver massive computing power for future applications.
The strategy encompasses Microsoft applying its typical mantra of "simplifying computing" to the costly and often complex high-performance computing world in the form of its Windows HPC Server 2008 surrounded by Microsoft's collection of applications, management wares, development tools, and independent software vendor community.
[ Read the related story about Microsoft's rollout of HPC Server 2008 on Wall Street. ]
"We are not talking about a lot of unique product development here; it is mostly about packaging and coming up with appropriate licensing," says Gordon Haff, an analyst with Illuminata. "But as HPC becomes more and more mainstream and used for all kinds of commercial roles, whether it is product design or business analytics, Windows is not such an unnatural fit as it might have been in the past."
Microsoft last week said it would release on Nov. 1 HPC Server 2008, the company's most competent move to date to offer parallel computing horsepower to corporations doing more real-time simulations, designs, and number crunching.
But the road is decidedly uphill.
Microsoft currently lays claim to less than 5 percent of HPC server market revenue, according to IDC. Those numbers compare with 74 percent for Linux and just more than 21 percent for Unix variants.
Those sorts of challenges, however, have not deterred Microsoft in the past.
The company is betting users such as engineers will combine workflows running on their Windows workstations with Windows-based back-end HPC clusters, or move those workloads off the desktop and into an HPC infrastructure.
Microsoft also envisions such desktop /back-end combinations as Excel users performing a function call from their desktop, which in the background executes an agent that runs some computational algorithms on a networked HPC cluster and returns an answer. The user would have no concept of the back-end tied to Excel, which is widely used in financial services.