High-end clustering tool is reworked for the enterprise

The Moab Adaptive Computing Suite aims to be a "virtual data center OS"

A company that develops workload management tools for high-performance clusters is bringing its products to the commercial data center, where it says it can help companies allocate computing resources more efficiently.

Cluster Resources makes the Moab software tools widely used in HPC (high-performance clustering) environments, including 12 of the world's 20 biggest supercomputers.

It's a layer of middleware that schedules jobs across large server clusters according to policies and service-level agreements.

With more commercial data centers using virtualization to spread work across pools of servers, those environments are starting to resemble the supercomputing clusters where Moab has its roots, said Cluster Resources President and COO Michael Jackson.

That led the company to introduce a new product, the Moab Adaptive Computing Suite, to target enterprises, government agencies and public cloud computing providers. It has also changed its company name, to Adaptive Computing.

Its existing products deal mostly with batch-type processing, while the new software suite can manage transactional applications where demand fluctuates throughout the day, and also manage virtual machine instances, the company said.

"When you get into transactional applications, you begin to get something that looks less like a batch and more like a pipeline, where demand varies and where you have to maintain service levels for different apps over time," Jackson said.

The software can also repurpose resources when demand fluctuates, by provisioning a new OS configuration or adding storage and networking resources, Jackson said. It does this by working with IBM's xCat and Tivoli provisioning managers and with HP's server automation tools. Both companies are resellers of the Moab software, he said.

"As the needs of the data center change throughout the day for different types of application services, we can actually repurpose resources to different operating system characteristics, whether that's from Linux to Windows or between versions of Linux with different drivers," he said.

Adaptive Computing said it has been adding the enterprise capabilities for some time, and it says about half its revenue already comes from enterprise companies such as banks, or government agencies running busy Web sites.

With its focus moving to commercial data centers, the company will run into competition from VMware, which is also expanding its virtualization tools to build a "cloud computing OS."

VMware has a wide lead in x86 server virtualization, with a brand well known to enterprises. But its products are limited to VMware environments, while the Moab tools can manage multiple hypervisors and server platforms, including Windows, Linux and Unix machines, said Joseph Zhou, a senior analyst with Ideas International.

"They have a very good reputation in the industry," he said. "All the tier-one vendors have no choice but to include them in their HPC portfolios because of customer demand."

Used in conjunction with virtualization software, Jackson said the Moab Adaptive Computing Suite can boost server utilization rates by an extra 20 to 40 percent, depending on the application.

The suite is priced on a per-socket subscription basis. The price typically works out to be 5 percent to 8 percent of the capital cost of the server cluster hardware, he said.

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