IBM eases building of Linux clusters

IBM eases building of Linux clusters

IBM has announced a series of prepackaged Linux cluster offerings that it claims will allow users to tie up to 64, two-processor Intel servers into one massive Linux cluster.

Cluster configurations are used to harness the power of multiple servers to run large applications. Clusters are also often used to boost application uptime. For instance, each server in a high-availability fail-over cluster is capable of taking on the load of a failed server.

IBM's Solutions Series for Linux Clusters combines its Netfinity PC server line with Arcadia, Myricom's Myrinent cluster interconnect technologies, Extreme Network's Ethernet switches and terminal servers from Equinox Systems.

IBM will also bundle in supporting software and utilities for installing and managing applications, said David Gelardi, a director at IBM's Deep Computing group.

Users can buy the clusters in configurations of 8, 16, 32 and 64 nodes. Pricing for an 8-node cluster with 16-processor support starts at $US115,000, and will support the Caldera, Red Hat, SuSE and Turbo Linux distributions, Gelardi added.

The first Linux clusters are being targeted mainly at engineering and scientific markets because that is where the applications are, Gelardi said.

"Linux clusters have been very popular with the technical community," said Rich Partridge, an analyst at D. H. Brown Associates.

Not only do technical applications often need the high-end scalability provided by clustering, but they can also be manipulated more easily to take advantage of clustering technologies, Partridge said.

IBM plans to make similar clusters available for commercial applications such as data warehousing and Web serving in the future, Gelardi said. Also on the cards is a high-availability cluster configuration, he added.

IBM's latest Linux initiative builds on a series of similar moves during the past few months.

For instance, IBM announced plans to release a new version of its AIX Unix operating system featuring extensive Linux support.

In July, the company announced new hardware, software and pricing options designed to make it cheaper for users to run Linux applications on mainframes.

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