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Microsoft Separates Tools from Compute Cluster Edition

Microsoft will deliver its Windows Server 2003, Compute Cluster Edition, for high-performance grid computing in two pieces to offer customers maximum flexibility in deployment, a senior Microsoft product manager says.

Originally conceived as a single server product, with integrated tools for managing and monitoring teams of parallel server nodes, the Compute Cluster Edition has evolved into a server operating system CD and a separate CD of tools. The two CDs will be sold separately.

The operating system, originally called Windows Server 2003 HPC Edition, will retain its current name of Windows Server 2003, Compute Cluster Edition. For now, the tools CD is called the Compute Cluster Pack.

A two CD approach will give customers deployment flexibility, says Greg Rankich, senior product manager for high-performance computing at Microsoft. "The second CD will run on [Windows Server 2003], Standard Edition and [Windows Server 2003], Enterprise Edition," Rankich says. "The flip side is there's going to be people who want to run CCE but don't want to run our middleware."

With delivery not planned until sometime in 2006, pricing isn't set. "We're obviously trying to price the solution as competitively as we can to Linux," Rankich says. In the past, Rankich has said that price per node for competitive software, from Linux operating systems on up to tools, ranges from free to about $1,500.

Rankich says Microsoft is looking to the Windows Server 2003, Web Edition, as one model. The Web Edition is a lower-priced, resource-constrained edition of Windows designed to compete against Linux and Apache in the Web server market. Web Edition is sold only by OEMs.

In any case, the Compute Cluster Edition will be cheaper than Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition, and the company is looking at the pricing of the Compute Cluster Edition and Compute Cluster Pack combined as it positions itself for competition against the alternative technologies that dominate the currently small market for high-performance computing.

For now, the Compute Cluster Pack will consist of a Job Scheduler, message passing interface, cluster monitoring tools and deployment tools. "We're still looking at some other things," Rankich says.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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