IBM builds marketing to push HPC in the mid-range

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IBM is talking today about a new concerted effort to drive HPC down into the mid-range by making it easier for non-traditional HPC users to deploy small(ish) clusters. I’m strongly in favor of anything that gets more people using HPC via the million monkeys theory(1).

This is primarily a marketing push, addings SKUs of cluster configurations prebuilt to meet the needs of specific industries and developing marketing relationships that will help its partners support the industry verticals.

But there was some interesting news aimed at crossing pretty big gaps. The first is that IBM is building benchmarking and tuning centers aimed at M$oft’s CCS 2003. These will be key to convincing new users to buy and then getting them up and going once they do buy. This is an important move.

IBM has expanded its relationship with Microsoft to offer customers, software vendors and IBM Business Partners four new benchmarking facilities in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; Raleigh, N.C.; Beaverton, Ore.; and Montpelier, France. These new centers join a network of global Linux benchmark centers.

The second important step they are taking is that they are using their deep pockets to make systems available for users to test their applications before they buy.

Customers interested in moving to a clustered environment can quickly test-drive their HPC applications in IBM’s Deep Computing Capacity on Demand centers. With access to over 20,000 processors, customers large and small can tap into IBM Systems to help accelerate time to market and improve quality while helping to keep fixed costs to a minimum.

I think this is especially valuable to those new users in the mid range for whom a $500,000 investment in a machine is a really big deal. Now they’ll have a way to base the purchase on more than just hope that they’ll get more performance.

Also note: this effort focuses on getting users into HPC with CCS 2003, bridging them from their familiar workaday environment into HPC. I think this is smart.

(1) The Million Monkeys Computing Theory: analogous to the million monkeys typing theory that says that with a sufficiently large number of monkeys typing for a sufficiently long period of time one of them will reproduce Hamlet. Likewise the more people there are using HPC the more likely it is that one of them will discover something totally new that will change the way we live, work, and compete.


  1. […] You’ll recall that we mentioned back in February that IBM was pushing hard down into the bottom of the market in partnership with CCS, HP was already offering CCS via its HPC web configurator, and even Fujitsu has done some marketing around CCS. Industry insiders in the traditional HPC community say even more deals are in the works that will push CCS even further into HPC. […]


  1. Just as Windows pushed desktop computing to the mainstream, CCS may actually push small-scale cluster computing to the mainstream. I really like the concept of a “personal supercomputer” and it seems that Microsoft is embracing this too. Of course, it might be possible for a Linux vendor to attack this market as well since there is no established player here at the moment. So maybe something bigger than Ubuntu but smaller than RedHat or SUSE.