[Bioclusters] Re: Best ways to tackle migration to dedicated cluster/Farm

Chris Dwan (CCGB) bioclusters@bioinformatics.org
Thu, 25 Mar 2004 16:39:08 -0600 (CST)

I like the dual boot solution too.  There are a lot of very hairy issues
involved in cycle stealing...especially if the machines crash more
frequently with your software than without.  Desktop support people notice
things like that (as well they should!).

The TCO argument seems silly to me when based on hardware costs.  Seems to
me that you need to buy the disk anyway, it's whether or not you have to
buy a computer to go with it.  :)  The real savings from moving to a
dedicated cluster is on the admin / support end.

In terms of OS coherency, there are folks on this list with great
experience in that area.  The short form is that you're going to need
to address the issue of pushing out updates to compute nodes whether
they're dedicated to a cluster or not.  The answer is to do it at boot
time, from a boot image server.

> > If, on the other hand, it's concern over trying something new, the
> > Engine system recently implemented at Novartis is a decent example of
> > a corporation gaining a great deal of horsepower this way.
> Can you provide more details on this or point me in the right direction
> to get more info please?

United Devices (http://www.ud.com) has a commercial implementation of
cycle stealing software a la Seti@home.  Their page has a number of good
links.  Included there is a PDF describing a major install at Novartis.

Basically, Novartis has already plugged 2,700 workstations into their
UD grid, and they plan to include 62,000 more as they finish standardizing
every single workstation across all their sites.  It's a cool project by
any measure, but (of course) the devil is in the details.

-Chris Dwan