Of small decisions, large migrations come to pass

I had heard of some changes in the windows licensing model. Windows licensing is relevant if you are building a windows cluster, as you now have a new set of costs and usage restrictions atop your machine, that you simply don’t have with the alternatives.

Lets focus upon the question that cluster builders have to face. So you have this nice shiny new cluster with 30 or so new machines. You know you are going to cycle machines in and out of the cluster. And do reloads. This is par for the course, major maintenance is usually simpler done via re-install than trying to tweak N machines by hand. For those who don’t beleive me, try this when N>2 some time. You will understand it quickly.
Maybe I misunderstand something about the license, but it appears that you have 1 reinstallation with forthcoming Vista. Which means what for your cluster? Better not reload more than once?
When you see a sequence of bad decisions, sometimes a mixed metaphor is the appropriate response to help people understand exactly how bad a decision it is. My favorite in these cases is “giving them enough rope to blow their own toes off”.
I guess Microsoft *wants* people to explore alternatives. They are providing the incentive. From a cluster perspective, I guess I am going to have to ask some seriously point blank questions at SC06. No, not to embarrass. If we have a customer who has/wants a Vista cluster*, we need to understand *all* of the limitations, specifically ones on reloading.
Hopefully they will rethink this one. Hard.
* this is hypothetical.

2 thoughts on “Of small decisions, large migrations come to pass”

  1. Joe, Vista is the client OS. The license for Vista is different for different editions. Longhorn Server is not shipping until later in 2007 and will likely have a different license. I am not a lawyer, but I can assure you that when we ship Compute Cluster Edition for Longhorn Server, you will be allowed to reinstall all day on the same hardware without violating your license.
    Hunt me down at SC06 anyway, I’m sure we can find some more interesting topics to discuss!
    John Vert
    Development Manager
    Windows High Performance Computing.

  2. John, I knew there was a critical bit I was missing. I would expect that end users might prefer to install the client product on their cluster due to the cost. Not unlike Cornell/others.
    I am hoping I don’t have to re-install it all day long, I really want to run it diskless if I need to run it. Either that or in a VMWare/Xen session. I seem to remember hearing something about Vista explicitly forbidding the latter. Longhorn probably won’t (guessing), but the costs will probably be an issue again.
    Ok, we’ll see if we can grab you for a coffee in Tampa.

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