Apple Computer on Tuesday updated its Apple Workgroup Cluster adding several third-party applications and a new Foundry switch. The new clusters have been revamped and now start at 8 processors, the company said. The original workgroup cluster was a great success, according to Apple.
“One of the reasons the original cluster was successful is because it is an all-inclusive solution,” Liz Kerr, Apple’s Director Science and Technology Markets, told MacCentral. “It is easy to set up and deploy, easy to manage, it has a great price and it fits the needs of computational scientists.”
While Kerr admitted that there is still a problem with some IT people and their perception of Apple, the company is still making a significant amount of headway. Ultimately, with Apple’s solution, the scientists themselves could set up a cluster with little effort.
“While scientists can see the need for this, often times there is a gap in how they get to the point where they can use it easily,” said Kerr. “Many times the scientists that will use the cluster aren’t IT people and don’t have the background to get something like this set up and running unless they have a solution like the Apple Workgroup Cluster.”
One advantage that Apple says it has over the competition is that they give scientists everything they need to get up and running. Unlike other solutions, there is no guesswork once you start putting everything in place.
“They don’t need to think about all the bits and pieces they might need, we’ve already done that for them,” said Kerr. “Scientists just want to think about their science, not take two weeks to get their cluster setup – that just makes them angry.”
The Apple Workgroup cluster comes with the Xserve G5 and nodes; Foundry EdgeIron switches; Xrack PRO2 or APC VX racks; APC Smart-UPS; Power distribution and Ethernet cables. On the software side Apple provides Mac OS X Server; Apple Remote Desktop and Xcode (including GCC 4) with the option to get iNquiry, gridMathematica and MATLAB, as well.
“When customers look at what they get from other people, they get pieces in a box, said Alex Grossman, Apple director of product management, server hardware. “What they get from Apple is a completely integrated pre-tested and qualified solution.”
Grossman also pointed to Mac OS X as a significant advantage for the Apple Workgroup Cluster, saying the ease of use and underlying power of operating system and applications should not be underestimated.
“We also have an advantage in the intuitiveness of all of our software,” said Grossman. “Everything from Mac OS X Server Admin and Server Monitor all the way to ARD (Apple Remote Desktop) make the tasks that people have to do a lot easier.”
Apple has updated its workgroup cluster Web site with more information on the clusters and PDFs of deployment guides, as well as other resources.