Double-Take launches diskless boot software for Windows HPC Server

By Kevin Komiega

-- Double-Take Software (NASDAQ: DBTK) has announced the availability of Double-Take Flex for High Performance Computing (HPC), a software tool that facilitates diskless iSCSI boot for Microsoft Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 storage, bootstrap and boot volume management.

Double-Take Flex for HPC turns an existing iSCSI SAN infrastructure into an iSCSI storage resource tuned for sharing HPC node boot images.

Flex for HPC is dependent on Microsoft's soon-to-be-released Windows HPC Server 2008 R2, which allows the use of diskless nodes for provisioning.

According to Steve Marfisi, product manager at Double-Take, managing a large number of compute nodes can be labor-intensive.

"Microsoft has some hooks in HPC Server 2008 R2 written by third-party vendors to enable diskless boot and use of iSCSI storage. Our Flex technology is iSCSI based and we were already doing diskless OS booting," Marfisi says.

Moving into the HPC space is a departure for Double-Take. Marfisi says Microsoft approached them to provide iSCSI technology capable of supporting HPC Server.

"This is not our traditional space. Double-Take Flex is based on network boot and software-based iSCSI SAN technology acquired from emBoot in 2008," Marfisi explains.

The initial iteration of Flex made it possible for Ethernet NICs in desktops or servers to perform diskless booting from any iSCSI SAN. The software also allowed multiple servers or workstations to boot from a single shared boot volume.

Flex for HPC uses the same base product, but has been rewritten to scale to support hundreds of Windows HPC servers.

Marfisi says a basic configuration of Flex for HPC for 40 compute nodes costs $1,995, with a $50 charge for each additional server.

In related news, Double-Take is in the process of being acquired by Vision Solutions, a privately-held portfolio company of Thoma Bravo LLC, in a deal valued at $242 million (see "Vision Solutions to acquire Double-Take").

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This article was originally published on June 25, 2010