Red Hat is not losing any sleep over Microsoft's impending entry into the cluster computing space.
In an interview with ZDNet Asia, Shane Owenby, Red Hat's regional manager for Southeast Asia, said that Microsoft would find it hard to gain popularity among the cluster computing user base.
Last Friday, Microsoft announced that it has completed the codes for its Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 targeting high-performance computing. The operating system is expected to ship this August.
Scott Crenshaw, general manager of enterprise Linux platform at Red Hat, dismissed Microsoft's entry into cluster computing.
"They're playing catch-up," he said. "Linux is often associated with high-performance computing, but Windows has never achieved that on a large scale."
Owenby said researchers and others in academic circles typically use Linux to power clusters, because source codes are readily available for them to modify and customize to fit their computing needs--something which Windows has not been able to do.
According to Kuan Sung, senior manager of technology solutions and governance at Singapore's National Library Board, Linux is also an ideal platform for supercomputing because of its ability to combine cheap, commodity hardware with free and open-source software.
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But cost reduction is not the only reason for using Linux.
"It's not just about procurement, it's also about participation," Crenshaw said, noting that some Asian governments have declared a preference for open-source software. These governments do not just want to be users of technology. They also want to create their own technology and not be tied down by a single vendor, he added.
Ubuntu no threat for now
Asked about the threat from the latest release of Ubuntu Linux, which marks the distribution's foray into the enterprise Linux space, Crenshaw said: "Their user base is still small, so we're not seeing the impact of it [Ubuntu] so far."
He noted that vendors who move into the enterprise Linux space will face barriers. For instance, they need to achieve a "critical mass" of users before hardware and software vendors certify their products against any Linux distribution, he explained.