IBM brings high-end clustering to Linux

IBM today announced an extension of its products to help manage large server farms from a single workstation.

IBM today announced an extension of its products to help manage large server farms from a single workstation

Code-named Blue Hammer, IBM's eServer clusters are in the works for Unix and Linux. The clusters, slated to be available in the upcoming months, will enable IBM customers to manage up to 32 eServer rack systems from a single point.


Dave Turek, IBM's vice president of deep computing, said the clusters will allow IBM to give customers unprecedented scalability and affordability.

"We're moving away from the mantra some companies had that the way you do something is build progressively bigger and bigger SMPs [symmetric multiprocessors]," said Turek, in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. He added that IBM's goal is to spread its clustering technology across its portfolio.

The Unix version, due out in April, will cluster up to 32 two-way to eight-way IBM M80 servers or 32 one-way to six-way IBM H80 servers on the AIX operating system. The midrange M80 and H80 servers can be clustered with the higher-powered p680 or S80 servers. Pricing for the Unix version of Blue Hammer, including the management software, starts at $32,000 per node in the cluster.

The Linux version will provide management for clusters of up to 32 two-way IBM eServer x330 Intel-based machines. Pricing for the Linux version, slated for availability in May, has not yet been announced.

Both versions will include the SP supercomputer's PSSP (Parallel System Support Programs) cluster management software and GPFS (General Parallel File System) software. With the software, users can conduct operating system installation and configuration from a single point and keep files synchronized across servers, as well as allowing access to files across all nodes in a cluster.

"This maximizes the choices available to our customers to achieve the scalability and availability their business needs dictate," Turek said.

The announcement also reemphasizes IBM's recent focus on Linux.

"This is a continuation of IBM's previously announced initiatives to bring its SP technology to Linux, a commodity market, and evidence that IBM is serious about its Linux strategy," said Stacey Quandt, associate analyst on Linux and open source for Giga Information Group, in Santa Clara, Calif.

Quandt said IBM competitors such as Compaq Computer, SGI and Hewlett-Packard also are looking to Linux these days. But, she added, "IBM is moving much faster to leverage the combined strengths of Unix and SP technology to further enhance the price and performance of Linux computational clusters."

More extensions will be announced this summer, Turek said, with the technology rollout continuing with two to three software releases a year.