[Beowulf] MS HPC... Oh dear...

Chris Dagdigian dag at sonsorol.org
Mon Jun 12 08:03:02 PDT 2006

As usual, RGB nails it.

Anyone reading this list is not a candidate for MS Cluster Server  
2003 - the main target is commercial software vendors and possibly  
some specialized turnkey system integrators.

One of the markets I can sorta see for MS in my field (life science- 
ish stuff) is the market for CPUs that do pretty much nothing but  
service the needs of exotic lab instruments.

There is a pretty good mix of six and seven-figure lab hardware that  
in the past used to ship with a dedicated workstation to handle data  
collection and first/second-pass processing of results. These systems  
(in some cases) are now shipping with small clusters to handle the  
processing demands. The people purchasing these lab instruments are  
straight wet lab biologists or chemists and they really could care  
less about the data collector/processing box.  They've already spent  
north of half a million dollars just to get the instrument and its  
related infrastructure and they really do not want to be in the  
business of rolling and managing their own lab cluster. They want to  
run their instrument, not screw around with its related infrastructure.

Take one of those nice looking Rocketcalc deskside cluster boxes or  
something like that Tyan cluster chassis that was discussed on the  
list last week,  slap MS Cluster Server on it and pair it with a  
nicely supported (by the instrument maker or some third party)  
software stack that supports and drives the exotic lab instrument and  
(I think) people will buy them.

The interesting thing for me is at what level MS will consider this a  
success or failure.  Sales of 20,000 licenses in a year may translate  
into "horrible failure to penetrate the cluster market" within MS but  
it may represent an absolute windfall to small and specialized  
software shops who only need to sell a few dozen or a few hundred  
licenses to their very specialized market niches per year. For the  
small ISVs, even a MS "failure" could be very very significant in  
terms of volume and revenue. To them, MS Cluster Server 2003 is  
nothing more than a delivery platform for their niche codes,  
potentially one that is easier to build a sales and support model  
around than a pure Linux cluster would. Their end users / target  
market would not really care about the base OS.

my $.02


On Jun 12, 2006, at 10:30 AM, Robert G. Brown wrote:

> So, naaaaa, not likely to be a popular development platform for real
> researcher's writing their own code or using open source code.
> Commercial only.

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