SGI builds Linux Networx

High-performance computer
vendor Linux Networx folded
its tent in February and
declared bankruptcy. Not long
after the company went belly
up, another somewhat larger
purveyor of high-performance
computing gear, SGI, purchased
the assets of the Salt
Lake City-based entity. SGI has
had time to sift through the
Linux Networx treasure chest,
and we wondered what the
company found of use.

Quite a bit, said Robert
Ewald, former chief executive
officer of Linux Networx and
now SGI's CEO. At the time of
the purchase, SGI was just getting
into clustered computing.
It also had just started a Linux
platform initiative, named the
Industrial Strength Linux Environment
(ISLE). The remnants
of Linux Networx can
help the company in both endeavors,
Ewald said.

ISLE will be a set of tools for
managing Linux-based highperformance
computing clusters.
Although
Linux distributions
from companies
such as Red Hat
and Novell bundle
an array of opensource
programs,
the tools for managing
Linux clusters
are still in relative
disarray, rife
with different licensing
restrictions
and
incompatibilities.

ISLE could be a standard
platform for a variety of highperformance
computing management
tools, available on
SGI systems and other Linuxbased
high-performance computing
systems. And a big part
of this package will be Linux
Networx's collection of highperformance
computing management
applications, once
called Clusterworx. Clusterworx
had tools for server monitoring
and management, in
addition to image multicasting,
provisioning
and updating.
The company
was also working
on an application
that would allow
the software to
work in a service-
oriented architecture,
which
would let different
modules easily
communicate
with other
modules.

SGI is testing a beta version
of ISLE with a few customers,
Ewald said.

Linux Networx also can help
SGI develop clustered computing
products. Ewald said Linux
Networx had a number of engineers
with clustering experience.
Not surprisingly, most of
them were looking for work
after the company folded, and
many of them came to SGI.
They are helping to advance
SGI's two recently introduced
cluster computing systems, the
Altix ICE integrated blade cluster
and the Altix XE cluster.

Meanwhile, SGI also is providing
services to Linux Networx's
users. In 2006, the Defense
Department's High
Performance Computing Modernization
Program bought
five Linux Networx clusters,
which ran at the Army Research
Laboratory's Major
Shared Resource Center.

Also, SGI started offering
maintenance contracts for
those customers ' and had inherited
a number of spare
parts and internal systems with
the acquisition, so it had the
equipment.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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