[linux-elitists] Re: [Beowulf] Redmond is at it, again (fwd from laytonjb@charter.net)

Eugen Leitl eugen@leitl.org
Wed May 26 08:44:33 PDT 2004

----- Forwarded message from "Jeffrey B. Layton" <laytonjb@charter.net> -----

From: "Jeffrey B. Layton" <laytonjb@charter.net>
Date: Tue, 25 May 2004 17:42:06 -0400
To: Beowulf@beowulf.org
Subject: Re: [Beowulf] Redmond is at it, again
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.3.1) Gecko/20030425

For some people, me being one of them, this is a HUGE threat. Let me

Redhat, Suse, etc. have gone to a per-CPU price for license
and support driving up the costs of installing the OS on a cluster.
In fact, the last quote I got for a 72 node cluster averaged about
$400 a node! Now management has started to compare this price
to Windows and guess what? - Windows is cheaper on a per
node basis. This includes purchasing and support! We already
have a massive license with MS so we get Windows pretty
cheap, but I can get Windows myself cheaper than $400 a node.
We started to talk to management about the support costs, etc.
but they argue that they already have a whole bunch of admins
trained in Windows so support costs should be low (I tried to
explain the difference between admining a cluster and admining
a Windows server). Plus we have an infrastructure to push
updates to Windows machines, so they though updates would
be a no-brainer as well.

At the ClusterWorld conference I tried to talk to various distro
vendors about pricing, but they weren't listening. I don't mind
paying a relatively small fee to purchase a distro, but paying a
support costs for each CPU is nuts! If I have a problem on one
node, I have a problem on ALL nodes. The distro companies
have yet to understand this. Novell is starting to come around
a bit, but they still aren't there yet.

We are encouraging cluster vendors to support at least one
open distro. That way we aren't held hostage to these companies
that don't understand HPC. I don't know if we're making any
head way, but I constantly hope we are. We're also trying to
push IT management into "approving" a couple of open distros,
but they are reluctant because they don't see a company behind
them (they insist on the "one throat to choke" model of support).
However, I'm still hopefully.

If you work for a disro company and you are reading this,
all I can say is, WAKE UP! You are going down the tubes fast
in the HPC market. If you work for a cluster vendor and you are
reading this, please push your management hard to adopt at
least one open distro. We'll pay for support for it, but not using
the current pricing scheme that the Redhat's, Suse, etc. are

If you work for a company that sells commercial software for
Linux (e.g. compilers, MPI, etc.), please support more than
RHEL and SLES! Think seriously about supporting an open
distro and also supporting a kernel/glibc combo.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels this way. Let's tell the
distro companies that we won't stand for it!



>Yeah, think of all those power Excel hydro code users who're going to
>Microsoft creating Windows for supercomputers
>By Stephen Shankland and Ina Fried
>CNET News.com
>May 24, 2004, 12:30 PM PT
>URL: http://zdnet.com.com/2100-1103-5219282.html
>Microsoft has launched an effort to produce a version of Windows for
>high-performance computing, a move seen as a direct attack on a Linux
>Bottom line:
>For now, Linux has the upper hand, owing to its affinity with Unix--the OS
>environment the high-performance crowd is most comfortable with--and the
>open-source model, which lets users turn directly to source code for answers
>to problems. But a Microsoft product would theoretically integrate better
>with Windows desktop machines, and if the company can serve up an impressive
>offering, Linux could be in for a tussle.


----- End forwarded message -----
Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a>
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