HPCwire — the leading source for news from the HPC market — covered the launch of Bright Computing in their weekly podcast. Michael Feldman, Editor at HPCwire, and Addison Snell, CEO at InterSect360 Research, discuss the launch of Bright Computing and interview Commercial Director and co-founder of ClusterVision, Dr Matthijs van Leeuwen.
Listen to the podcast on the HPCwire website, or download below:
A transcript of the podcast is provided below:
Michael Feldman: Hello everyone, welcome to HPCwire Sound Byte for October, 9th, 2009, available every Friday on iTunes. I'm Michael Feldman, editor of HPCwire and we have with us Addison Snell, CEO of Intersect360. Good morning Addison.
Addison Snell: Good morning Michael.
Michael Feldman: This week's notable news involved IBM Blue Gene getting an award from President Obama as well a new Supercomputer joining the Petaflop Club. But first we saw a new HPC vendor launch this week, a company called Bright Computing (debut on Monday) — basically an offshoot of ClusterVision's cluster management software business. Addison, did you catch the Bright Computing news this week?
Addison Snell: I did catch this news. It's something I've been looking forward to. I met with Matthijs van Leeuwen at the ISC conference and he hinted to me then that we should be watching for some developments in this space and I was delighted to see the announcement.
Michael Feldman: Right. I spoke with Matthijs van Leeuwen, ClusterVision co-founder, earlier this week and then again earlier today and asked him about how the new company got its start. Let's take a listen.
Michael Feldman: I'm speaking with Matthijs van Leeuwen, Commercial Director and co-founder of ClusterVision. Hello Matthijs.
Matthijs van Leeuwen: Hi Michael.
Michael Feldman: Matthijs, what drove the decision to spin off ClusterVision's cluster management software into an independent business?
Matthijs van Leeuwen: Michael, Addison: first, thank you very much for having me on the show.
Really what led us to launch the Bright Cluster Manager product world-wide, was customer feedback.
Since we launched the latest version of the product at supercomputing 2008 in Austin, Texas, the response we got was really encouraging. We had many people — in particular from the US — contacting ClusterVision and requesting to buy or resell the software. So it quickly became clear that there was a need, a market, also in the US, for a better cluster management software.
What we did is we decided to create an independent, reseller based, business model, with a dedicated organization around Bright Cluster Manager. So Bright Computing now has its own management, development, sales and services teams.
Finally, what I like to mention here, is that Bright Cluster Manager is already a very well established product in Europe. Under it's previous name, as you mentioned, ClusterVisionOS, it has been installed on hundreds of clusters across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, both by ClusterVision and resellers — such as Dell in Europe — and also on several TOP500 systems.
Michael Feldman: How do you think this rebranded product — Bright Cluster Manager — differentiates itself from the other cluster management software solutions that are already out there and are being offered on a global basis, whether they be other commercial products or open source solutions, like ROCKS, or even custom OEM cluster management packages?
Matthijs van Leeuwen: First of all, Bright Cluster Manager was designed and written from grounds up specifically for HPC clusters.
What I recognize in competing products is that they do have an approach where they did what we also did in the past, which is: you take a Linux distribution, you add many open source tools that each fulfil part of the required functionality, and then you do your best to make it work and look like an integrated solution. But that approach has its limitations.
For example, you can never offer a truly integrated and consistent user interface, because under the bonnet you have all these different packages. For example for monitoring, alarm setting, user management, node provisioning, image management, etc. — all different packages under the bonnet.
Another challenge is scalability. A lot of these packages were never designed to scale to thousands of nodes.
We are convinced that as a result of the fundamental approach we took for Bright Cluster Manager — for example with a single daemon on each node in the cluster that provides all cluster management functionality — that we offer a much more consistent and intuitive user interface, especially our graphical user interface. We combine that with many advanced features for very large and complex clusters, such as advanced redundancy features, multiple load-balanced provisioning nodes, etc.
Michael Feldman: Realizing that you're not directly affiliated with Bright Computing, you're still with ClusterVision, can you give us some idea of the near-term plans for the rebranded product and the new company?
Matthijs van Leeuwen: We will be making several announcements in the weeks and months to come, including, for example:
- a number of installations that we have already done and are in the process of doing in the US;
- reseller agreements; and
- a number of very interesting and exciting partnerships with some very well established HPC companies that have already recognized the value that Bright Cluster Manager can bring to their customers.
We will also have a booth at Supercomputing where people can meet the team and get a live demonstration of Bright Cluster Manager.
Michael Feldman: Excellent. We will definitely be looking forward to that and following the news as it comes out. Thanks so much Matthijs for joining our program this morning. We really appreciate the time and good luck to everyone there and with the new company as well.
Matthijs van Leeuwen: Thank you very much.
Michael Feldman: Addison: looks like we have an another cluster management software vendor out there. Do you think there is room in the market for another commercial offering in this area?
Addison Snell: I do Michael. I do think there is room for another commercial offering in this area, because this is still an enduring problem area for HPC users. Particularly for people who are HPC adopters, who don't have as much Linux experience. There's still a disconnect between what it takes to administer an HPC system versus a general IT system that is in some other part of the infrastructure. So I think that need is there. I think it's been there.
That is not to say that there aren't any challenges. There are challenges as company's like Scali have found out before in terms of getting their solutions noticed and marketing them in a value-added way without it just being a laundry list of features that you can come to market with.
Furthermore, a big challenge is getting the user community to sit up and take notice that there are commercial cluster management options available on the free market that didn't come prebundled with their IBM HP, Dell, whatever, systems. A tendancy of a lot of users is to just go with whatever is already on there or — if they don't like that — to go try to download something else for free. That's a big hurdle for any independent commercial cluster management software company to get over.
Michael Feldman: Right. And their big message — and it's been the message I think of ClusterVision even before Bright Computing took this over — is that the software is easy to use. You don't need to be a Linux expert or an HPC expert to manage the software. It's something that a lesser mortal can pick up.
It is sort of hard to portray that over the magic of radio, but if you're on the website you can see screenshots of the interface and get a feel for the tight integration that they've done.
But it will be interesting to see how many resellers they're able to garner and how many OEMs they're gonna partner with to sort of get their software a nice position out there. It will be interesting to see in the upcoming months and weeks, the announcements who they are able to partner with.
Addison Snell: And that's going to be an interesting feature set for them to bring to the HPC market.
We have encountered plenty of users in our research and I've done site visits with many of them where the HPC users, the application users, the scientists, the engineers have to do their own system administration and it's not part of their skills set, really, other than they're forced to do it, because the IT people that their companies have are Windows people, who don't want to touch the Linux clusters.
So having something with an intuitive interface that's easy to use, that ought be a compelling value proposition and Bright Computing's biggest challenge is going to be one of awareness.