Platform steps up partnership with Microsoft

Grid computing software vendor Platform Computing announced support for Microsoft's upcoming clustering server software Tuesday.

Grid computing software vendor Platform Computing announced support for Microsoft's upcoming cluster server software. The two companies are also developing an open scheduling standard, according to the head of Platform. Additionally, Platform is expanding its existing relationships with both IBM and Hewlett-Packard.

Platform is integrating its workload scheduling software LSF so it will be available when Microsoft's Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 ships in the first half of 2006, according to Songnian Zhou, Platform's chief executive officer, chairman and co-founder. Platform made the announcement at the Supercomputing conference (SC05) taking place in Seattle through Friday.

Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 brings together the Compute Cluster Edition version of Microsoft's Windows OS and the vendor's Compute Cluster Pack of interfaces, utilities and management software. Currently in beta testing, Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 represents a major move by the software giant into the high performance computing market.

Platform and Microsoft have been working together for more than a year and the integration between their two products will be the first time the companies will "go out to market [together] publicly," Zhou said in a phone interview Monday. The integration will enable bi-directional job forwarding so that users can offload jobs to where there's optimal capacity, either on the computing cluster or in the data center, he added.

The vendors are also collaborating on an open standard for Web services job scheduling, according to Zhou. The standard is related to the integration of LSF and Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 and the plan is to involve other vendors in the standard's creation, he said. "It's not just a proprietary approach," Zhou added. "This is one of the very few times when Microsoft is coming out of bat and working with a third party to drive a standard."

At the opposite end of the computing scale from Microsoft's low-level clustering, Platform is expanding its relationship with IBM to include LSF integration with Big Blue's eServer Blue Gene cluster supercomputers, according to Zhou. IBM and Platform have been partners for about ten years, but have worked closer together over the past three years as Big Blue has focused more on a number of grid computing initiatives, he said. The integration of Blue Gene and LSF should be finished in the first quarter of next year, Zhou added.

Platform and IBM are making the integration move to anticipate user demand, according to Zhou. As more organizations bring in Blue Gene machines into their computing environment, they will want to use the same tools to manage the new supercomputer as they've been using with their existing high-performance computers, he said.

In another announcement at Supercomputing, Platform named HP as the third vendor to use its Rocks Standard Edition (SE) Linux cluster management software. The Rocks SE software will be available for the HP Cluster Platform 3000 later this month, according to Zhou. Both Dell and Silicon Graphics already include Rocks SE with their high-performance clusters.

Rocks SE is a commercial version of the NPACI Rocks open-source cluster management toolkit developed by the Rocks Cluster Group at the San Diego Supercomputer Center.

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