[Beowulf] Redmond is at it, again

John Burton j.c.burton at gats-inc.com
Wed Jun 2 07:40:38 PDT 2004

Laurence Liew wrote:

>Hi all
>>>If you work for a disro company and you are reading this,
>>>all I can say is, WAKE UP! You are going down the tubes fast
>>>in the HPC market. If you work for a cluster vendor and you are
>>>reading this, please push your management hard to adopt at
>>>least one open distro. We'll pay for support for it, but not using
>>>the current pricing scheme that the Redhat's, Suse, etc. are
>So what would be a per node price people (edu? commercial?) would pay
>for the OS with support and updates? Do note that support for HPC
>clusters requires technically competent and HPC savvy engineers and
>these do not come cheap....
>Based on previous discussions and email.. it seems that USD$50 - USD$100
>per node to be about right/acceptable for a cluster OS that is supported
>with updates and patches and basic support for HPC type questions.
>ps. I work for a cluster vendor. 

Just to add some mud to the waters...

The way we view our (small) cluster is a single machine as represented 
by the server node. It doesn't matter how many (up to a point) compute 
nodes we have. Updates and patches are stored on the server node and 
migrated to the compute nodes.  What we want from our O/S vendor is 1 
(one) copy of the patch / update. Since we're handling the systems 
administration, installation, maintenance, etc, ourselves, what are we 
getting for our ($100 per node) money?

Say we double the number of compute nodes from 100 to 200. We build or 
buy the individual nodes. We build, wire, populate, etc the racks. We 
set it up. We turn it on. We configure it. We administer it. Now, the 
question I have is what am I getting for the additional $10,000 ($100 / 
node x 100 nodes) I'm paying the O/S vendor? The "support" I want from 
the vendor is still the same as before I added the 100 nodes. I want to 
be kept aware of applicable updates and patches (server node *only* 
since I keep the compute  nodes up to date based on what patches / 
updates have been applied to the server). My "support" questions are 
most often answered in forums like Beowulf.org and when they aren't it 
is typically because its about a specific "value-added" software module. 
If I want value-added software, I should be able to buy it and buy 
support for it. So, the question remains, what am I getting for my money?


John Burton, Ph.D.
Principal Associate              GATS, Inc.  
j.c.burton at gats-inc.com          11864 Canon Blvd - Suite 101
jcb at visi.net (personal)          Newport News, VA 23606
(757) 873-5920 (voice)           (757) 873-5924 (fax)

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