- By Grant Gross -
Say you're a business owner who could use high-powered Linux computing clusters for in-depth analysis or complex mathematical computations, but you're a little intimidated by the time and effort it takes to set up a cluster. IBM has a deal for you -- a complete Linux cluster all wrapped up in an easy-to-install package.
In an effort to distance itself from a handful of other Linux cluster packages available, IBM on Tuesday announced the IBM eServer Cluster, what IBM is calling the "first pre-packaged Linux cluster." Dan Powers, v.p. of IBM's Linux division says the clustering package was released in response to requests from customers who wanted an easier to install and maintain Linux cluster.
"Clusters have started out in the educational and scientific communities, but commercial customers are starting to use this more and more," Powers says. "You've got the financial industry where they do a lot of economic analysis, and many industries where you start to talk about business intelligence or doing any kind of e-commerce.
"Those customers really have come back to us and said, 'Couldn't you just do some pre-packaged cluster solutions for us, so that we don't have to get assembly instructions when you pick up the cluster?' "
In addition to IBM's UNIX-based IBM eServer Cluster set-up and management tools and a patented cabling solution, the package includes several related "business-critical" products like the IBM WebSphere suite of e-business infrastructure software, Sendmail, Warp Solutions' Transaction Session Manager transaction processing package, and IBM's DB2 Universal Database.
Stacey Quandt, an Open Source analyst for Giga Information Group, says that grouping of "crown jewel" products in the cluster package should make the IBM eServer Cluster attractive to a variety of businesses, including the oil and gas, life sciences, and media content industries. The pre-packaging option could give IBM a leg up on clusters offered by competitors such as Hewlett-Packard and Dell, she says.
Quandt also says there are a number of uses for clusters that will need a "more granular approach" than the IBM offering, "but this is a broad package that would be applicable to a number of end-user customers.
"This doesn't solve all problems," she adds. "It'll make it easier to deploy a cluster to some degree, but there's obviously a degree of specialization, depending on what the application is."
IBM's Powers predicts that supercomputing grids being built, in which IBM is heavily involved, will use Linux clusters, and this product should make it easier for those kinds of clusters to be set up and maintained. He also says IBM's Global Services division is being trained in setting up clusters, and customers will soon be able to contract out the set-up to IBM.
For more information, see this ZDNet story.