No matter how many microprocessors a server vendor puts in its machines, simple arithmetic always seems to catch up with it. If one server is powerful, two servers are twice as powerful.
Oslo, Norway-based Scali believes that linking together computers built with high-end but readily available PC components combined with its ‘Scali Universe’ management software can produce the same or better results than a high-end server but at a fraction of the cost.
Clustering is by no means a new phenomenon. Many companies with big web presences or data warehouses rely on clustering for extra power, load balancing or fail over in case of component malfunctions. But Scali systems are aimed at ‘parallel processing’ – getting multiple computers to work together on the same complex problem to produce a solution quicker than even a supercomputer.
The company makes its systems from commodity components, linking them with high-speed connections. Scali Universe manages the cluster as one system, configures clusters remotely, installs operating systems and monitors system performance. The reliability of the hardware, the interconnection technology and the ease-of-use of Scali Universe are Scali’s chief selling points, company president Hans Olav Thorsen believes.
The company’s main customers are businesses that have tried to build their own clusters, “only to discover that there are more problems to it than they were comfortable with,” says Thorsen. Clients include car giants Daimler Chrysler, BMW and Rolls Royce.
Scali is the result of a 1990s marine defence research project at Norwegian defence contractor Kronsberg Gruppen. After the project ended in 1997 Scali was spun out, scooping up first round funding from its parent and SND Invest, a Norwegian venture capital firm. Intel Capital and Four Seasons Venture III joined them for a second round, completed in July 2002. Details of both rounds remain undisclosed.
Analysts at IDC expect the clustering market to grow from EU613 million in 2000 to EU2.4 billion in 2005. Scali, with its well-developed system, big-name users and recent funding, is in a promising position to take advantage.