IBM Adds Supercomputer Features to Linux Servers

Clustering aims for savings, speed

IBM last week announced plans to bring some of its most successful and powerful supercomputer clustering and file management software technologies to its Linux rack-mounted server line.

The new features were previously available only to AIX proprietary Unix operating systems and SP supercomputer customers, said Dave Gelardi, director of Deep Computing at IBM.

"It's another drumbeat in our commitment to our Linux initiatives," Gelardi said, referring to IBM CEO and President Louis V. Gerstner's announcement in December that IBM will spend $1 billion this year on Linux development.

Jason Katz, CEO and founder of PalTalk Software Inc., an instant messenger software firm in New York that serves 30,000 users daily, said the new SP-inspired features could help lessen some of his systems management challenges.

He now has two IBM M80 servers, six Intel platform Linux machines and nine Microsoft Windows NT servers. He said that with the new IBM software, he hopes to save money by managing all of his AIX and Linux machines through one console.

Software Moving to Linux

Parallel system support programs, cluster management software and general parallel file system software, which have been around since 1993, are being brought over to Linux from the SP operating system. Both systems will also receive enhancements in AIX.

With the new features, IBM's Linux users will be able to remotely power on or off individual nodes in a cluster, Gelardi said. They will also be able to add user identifications from a single console all at once rather than individually.

Code-named Blue Hammer, the Linux version of the eServers will enable clusters of up to 32 two-way IBM eServer x330 Intel-based machines.

The Unix version will cluster as many as 32 two- to eight-way IBM M80 or one- to six-way IBM H80 servers running the AIX operating system.

The Unix servers with the new features will be available at the end of the month; prices will start at $32,000 per node, including software. The Linux versions will be available in the third quarter; pricing hasn't been established yet.

Also new: the midrange M80s and H80s can now be clustered with large-scale IBM eServer p680 or S80 servers, according to the company. The M80, H80, S80 and p680 can also be directly attached to SP supercomputers.

Dan Kusnetzky, an analyst at IDC in Framingham, Mass., said today's announcement is "another proof point in IBM's commitment to Linux. They're starting to bring over their crown jewels from AIX."

Pat Bowman, director of technology operations at Mediaprise Inc., a hosted solutions provider in Austin, Texas, said he hopes to increase transaction speed for customers using the new software on his two M80 servers.

"With this clustering technology, we think we can resolve any kinds of throughput [problems] faster," he said.

Copyright © 2001 IDG Communications, Inc.

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