[Beowulf] Why I want a microsoft cluster...

Jim Lux James.P.Lux at jpl.nasa.gov
Wed Nov 23 13:09:10 PST 2005

At 12:25 PM 11/23/2005, Greg Lindahl wrote:
>On Wed, Nov 23, 2005 at 11:49:09AM -0800, Jim Lux wrote:
> > The scenario is that I want to run some sort of analysis tool that is
> > computationally intensive enough to require more crunch than I can get 
> with
> > a single desktop.
>Maybe what you want is a "cluster appliance", not a Windows cluster.
>Fully integrated with a Windows desktop. Then it doesn't matter what
>OS the appliance runs; lots of Windows shops have equipment that runs

the problem with an appliance (which concept I actually like... it pushes 
clusters to the masses) is the interaction with the IT support organizations..

If it's perceived as a piece of IT infrastructure or equipment, they're 
going to want to manage it, and if it's at all unusual, then they're going 
to either resist, or charge you a bunch for handling the anomaly.  Or, 
they'll wash their hands of you, and require that YOU manage it and take 
full responsibility (and most likely, not allow you to interconnect to the 
rest of the corporation).

If it hangs on the network, then the corporate network security folks are 
going to want to have a warm and fuzzy feeling that it's secure and not 
going to be a portal or tunnel for attack.  That generally means having 
some form of automated patch management, etc., which gets you back to 
having to deal with the IT support organization.

If you're contemplating going it alone, and self supporting, the corporate 
governance and audit folks might also throw an oar in. After all the data 
you're processing on that beast is probably "internal distribution only" 
potentially being trade secret or even worse, containing "Personally 
identifiable information", in which case they're going to want to 
understand how you are controlling the data and making sure that 
confidential data stays confidential AND that you don't inadvertently 
violate someone else's data rights.

And, then, you still have the interoperability of data products.. 
(although, I think that one is the most solvable.. it's a matter of file 
formats, mostly).. trying to paste the output of gnuplot into ppt.

If you have a MS based cluster, then dealing with the IT management folks 
and the network security folks becomes orders of magnitude easier (and 
potentially cheaper).  All the icky problems of network and data security 
have already been solved (at least to the satisfaction of the organization).

James Lux, P.E.
Spacecraft Radio Frequency Subsystems Group
Flight Communications Systems Section
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Mail Stop 161-213
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena CA 91109
tel: (818)354-2075
fax: (818)393-6875

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