Beowulf in Enterprise Environments

Robert G. Brown rgb at phy.duke.edu
Tue Jun 17 11:17:24 EDT 2003


On Tue, 17 Jun 2003, John Hearns wrote:

> 
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: <phil.neumiller at convergys.com>
> To: <beowulf at beowulf.org>
> Sent: Monday, June 16, 2003 10:49 PM
> Subject: Beowulf in Enterprise Environments
> 
> 
> > Hi,
> >
> > Does anybody on the list know of folks using Beowulf clusters in what
> might
> > be called
> > traditional IT or Enterprise environments?  Why/Why not?
> >
> > What about in cryptographic acceleration environments?   Why/Why not?

As Johns notes, "Beowulf" clusters per se, possibly not.  Generalized
clusters or LANs, they've been doing this longer than the term "beowulf"
has been around -- really as long as COMPUTERS have been around.

RC5 is cryptography spread out across the net in what is now a virtual
architype of a "grid" computation.

crack (the venerable Unix password cracking program) can be run
embarrassingly parallel over a network and in fact has been programmed
to do so on request for a rather long time now.

The NSA has probably been doing this from back when the "cluster" they
were using was a cluster of mainframes or a cluster of supercomputers.
Indeed, the very first decryption "computers" used in WWII pretty much
WERE clusters.

...etc.

However, in the enterprise one has to carefully differentiate between
"High Availability" (HA) cluster applications -- a distributed
webserver, google, distributed databases -- and "High Performance
Computing" (HPC) applications.  HPC is where beowulfs and compute
clusters live and is the primary topic of interest on this list.  HA is
where enterprise server farms of all flavors live, and is NOT generally
discussed a lot on this list (although there are other lists where it
is).  "Extreme Linux" (once upon a time) referred to the union of HA and
HPC and perhaps a bit of other linux automagic to makes it so that (as
Sun used to so delicately and cleverly put it) "the network IS the
computer".

Corporations that need HPC, of course, do clusters all the time --
simulations, finite element analysis in engineering, etc.  However, most
of what one calls "enterprise" computing is likely to be a component of
HA, or at best in a middle ground.  The enterprise is a lot more about
reliable delivery and load control and balancing than it is about
screaming aggregate FLOPS.

   rgb

-- 
Robert G. Brown	                       http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb/
Duke University Dept. of Physics, Box 90305
Durham, N.C. 27708-0305
Phone: 1-919-660-2567  Fax: 919-660-2525     email:rgb at phy.duke.edu



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