In my quest to understand how enterprise users are getting their work done (because it is totally different than the way we get things done on the science and engineering side of HPC) I’ve found a recent post from Dan Ciruli over at the West Coast Grid blog. Dan works at Digipede, a provider of tools to enable enterprise users to get their work done on HPC machines (Gigaspaces is another that we’ve talked about).
So, first Dan’s summary of what CCS is for those of us who only know Windows on the desktop
Windows Compute Cluster Edition is basically Windows Server 2003 x64 Edition. Microsoft took Server 2003, and added support for the type of hardware frequently seen in clusters (high-bandwidth networking like Infiniband, for example), and additional support for Remote Direct Memory Access (necessary for MPI implementations).
Next, they added in the Compute Cluster Pack. CCP is a set of tools that sits on top of the OS and provides additional software support for technical computing: specifically, an MPI stack, a cluster job scheduler, and a set of management tools.
So CCS builds a cluster in the sense that traditional HPTC users think of a cluster (MPI and all). But this doesn’t really help traditional Windows developers with existing business apps. Enter Digipede
Well, while CCP has plenty of tools for the scientific developer, it has almost nothing for the enterprise developer. If you’re developing in .NET, it doesn’t translate naturally to a cluster paradigm–in order to work with CCP, you’d have to compile your .NET down to a command-line executable, and do all of your data passing either in files or on the command line.
The Digipede Network, however, can put your CCE nodes at the disposal of a .NET developer. Without restructuring your application, without moving to a command-line paradigm, without deploying your EXE to the different nodes. By automatically deploying .NET assemblies (and related files), then distributing and executing .NET objects natively, the Digipede Network adds a layer of .NET support onto CCE.
The post has a lot more, with pointers to screencasts comparing two parallel implementations, one using just CCS and one using the Digipede Network on top of CCS.
[Update: In response to Robert’s comment below, I unmixed my mixed up usage of Digipede (the company) and Digipede Network (the product).]