You don't build your own car, so why build your own cluster?

August 30th, 2010 10:57 am
Posted by Brock Taylor
Tags: , ,

I'll wager Cydney Stevens $2 that if I surveyed 100 random new car buyers, none of them would say they bought their car in pieces and put it together themselves.  Why is it that I could survey new cluster buyers and get a large percentage, even the majority, that would say they did buy their cluster in pieces and put it together themselves?

My top speculations:

1) Current cluster experts want total control over the solution. They feel like the only solution that will work is the solution that they build from scratch.  Gurus don't trust a solution they didn't design/build.

2) Cost is too high. Many solutions are designed in an integrator lab, but they're still custom jobs for a specific purchaser.  Custom jobs cost more to deploy.  The solution is then to mitigate cost by buying the pieces separately and handling the design in-house.

3) Lack of a standard for clusters. I'd rather say this is the lack of awareness of a standard for clusters for obvious reasons.  If it isn't well known that clusters need to have a common application interface and a common set of features, then buying clusters slants towards cafeteria style component selection and jamming everything into a final solution.

Some big barriers (but not all barriers) would come down with cluster designs sold in assembly line fashion.  I can select a model of a car then customize some specific options that meet my performance, comfort, and personal preference needs.  Why not a similar approach to clusters?

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Author Info
Brock Taylor


Brock Taylor is an Engineering Manager and Cluster Solutions Architect for volume High Performance Compute clusters in the Software and Services Group at Intel. He has been a part of the Intel® Cluster Ready program from the start, is a co-author of the specification, and launched the first reference implementations of Intel Cluster Ready certified solutions.

Brock and others at Intel are working within the HPC community to enable advances and innovations in scientific computing by lowering the barriers to clustered solutions.

Brock joined Intel in December of 2000, and in addition to HPC clustering, he previously helped launch new processors and chipsets as part of an enterprise validation BIOS team. Brock has a B.S. in Computer Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and an M.Sc. in High Performance Computing from Trinity College Dublin.