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Step 1: Prepare for Your Deployment

Updated: June 1, 2011

Applies To: Windows HPC Server 2008 R2

The first step in the deployment of your HPC cluster is to make important decisions, such as deciding how you will be adding nodes to your cluster, and choosing a network topology for your cluster. The following checklist describes the steps involved in preparing for your deployment.

 

Task Description

1.1. Review the system requirements

Review the list of system requirements to ensure that you have all the necessary hardware and software components to deploy an HPC cluster.

1.2. Decide if you want to deploy your cluster with remote databases

Decide if you want to install the HPC databases on one or more remote servers, instead of installing them on the head node of your cluster.

1.3. Decide what type of nodes you want to add to your cluster and how many

Decide if you want to add compute nodes, broker nodes, or workstation nodes to your cluster. Also, decide how many nodes to add.

1.4. Decide how to add nodes to your cluster

Decide if you will be adding nodes to your cluster from bare metal, from preconfigured nodes, or from an XML file. Decide also if you want to deploy nodes over iSCSI.

1.5. Choose the Active Directory domain for your cluster

Choose the Active Directory® domain to which you will join the head node and the other nodes of your HPC cluster.

1.6. Choose a domain account for installation

Choose an existing domain account with enough privileges to perform installation tasks.

1.7. Choose a network topology for your cluster

Choose how the nodes in your cluster will be connected, and how the cluster will be connected to your enterprise network.

1.8. Prepare for multicast (optional)

If you will be deploying nodes from bare metal and want to multicast the operating system image that you will be using during deployment, configure your network switches appropriately.

1.9. Prepare for the integration of scripted power control tools (optional)

If you want to use your own power controls tools to start, shut down, and reboot nodes remotely, obtain and test all the necessary components of your power control tools.

The following sections list the basic hardware and software requirements for Windows® HPC Server 2008 R2. You can see detailed system requirements online (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=194785).

Hardware requirements for Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 are very similar to those for Windows Server 2008 R2.

noteNote
For more information about installing Windows Server 2008 R2, including system requirements, see Installing Windows Server 2008 R2 (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=194693).

Processor (x64-based):

  • Minimum: 1.4 GHz

  • Recommended: 2 GHz or faster

RAM:

  • Minimum: 512 MB

  • Recommended: 2 GB or more

Available disk space:

  • Minimum: 50 GB

  • Recommended: 80 GB or more

Drive:

  • DVD-ROM drive, if you will be using DVD media to install HPC Pack 2008 R2.

Network adapters:

  • The number of network adapters that you install on the nodes in your cluster depends on the network topology that you choose for your cluster.

  • You can deploy your HPC cluster with only one network adapter on each node, but you will be limited to only one possible network topology (all nodes only on an enterprise network). An additional network adapter on the head node will expand your options to a second possible network topology to choose from (compute nodes isolated on a private network).

  • You should also evaluate the possibility of installing a low-latency and high-throughput application network for your HPC cluster. This network will require installing specialized network adapters on the nodes.

  • For more information about the different HPC cluster network topologies, see HPC Cluster Networking in the Design and Deployment Guide (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkID=194568).

The following list outlines the software requirements for the nodes in a Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 cluster:

  • The head node computer must be running Windows Server 2008 R2 HPC Edition, or another edition of Windows Server 2008 R2.

  • A compute node can be running Windows Server 2008 R2 HPC Edition, another edition of Windows Server 2008 R2, or a 64-bit edition of Windows Server® 2008.

  • A broker node can only be running Windows Server 2008 R2 HPC Edition, or another edition of Windows Server 2008 R2.

  • A workstation node can be running Windows® 7 Enterprise, Windows 7 Professional, or Windows 7 Ultimate (joining a domain is required)

  • HPC Pack 2008 R2

To enable users to submit jobs to your HPC cluster, you can install the utilities included with HPC Pack 2008 R2 on client computers. Those client computers must be running any of the following operating systems:

  • Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 7 Professional, or Windows 7 Ultimate

  • Windows Vista® Enterprise, Windows Vista Business, and Windows Vista Ultimate with Service Pack 2 or later (32-bit or 64-bit editions)

  • Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2 or later (x64-based), or Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 3 or later (x86-based)

  • Windows Server 2008 R2

  • Windows Server 2008 with Service Pack 2 or later (32-bit or 64-bit editions)

  • Windows Server 2003 R2 (x86- or x64-based)

  • Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 2 or later (x86- or x64-based)

Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 uses four different databases to store management, job scheduling, reporting, and diagnostics data. You can install one or more of these four HPC databases on one or more remote servers, instead of installing them on the head node of your cluster (the default for HPC Pack 2008 R2). The advantage of this type of installation is that it saves resources on the head node, helping ensure that it can efficiently manage the cluster.

ImportantImportant
You should consider installing the HPC databases on one or more remote servers if your cluster will have more than 256 nodes.

To install the HPC databases on a remote server, that server must be running Microsoft SQL Server® 2008 SP1 or later. Also, you need to create the databases and configure them for remote access before you start the deployment process for your HPC cluster.

For detailed information and step-by-step procedures for installing the HPC databases on remote servers, see the Deploying an HPC Cluster with Remote Databases Step-by-Step Guide (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkID=186534).

You can add the following types of nodes to your cluster:

  • Compute nodes. Compute nodes are used for running jobs. This type of node cannot become a different type of node (that is, change roles) without being redeployed.

  • Broker nodes. Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) broker nodes are used for routing WCF calls from the Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) clients to the SOA services running on nodes in your cluster. This type of node can change roles to become a compute node without being redeployed.

  • Workstation nodes. Workstation nodes can also run jobs. This type of node can only be created on a computer that is running Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 7 Professional, or Windows 7 Ultimate. This type of node cannot change roles.

  • Windows Azure nodes. If you have a Windows® Azure subscription, you can add Windows Azure nodes on demand to increase your cluster capacity when you need it. Like compute nodes and workstation nodes, Windows Azure nodes can run jobs.

    noteNote
    You can add Windows Azure nodes only in Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 and later. For more information, see Deploying Windows Azure Nodes in Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 (http://technet.microsoft.com/library/hh189845(WS.10).aspx).

When HPC Pack 2008 R2 is installed, depending on the type of node that is being created, different features are installed. These features determine the role that the node will perform in the cluster. In some cases, a node is able to change roles because it has the necessary features to perform a different role. The ability to change roles is an important aspect that you need to consider when deciding the type of nodes that you want to add to your cluster.

Another important decision that you have to make is the number of nodes that you want to add. If you are adding broker nodes, you also need to decide how many compute nodes you will add for each broker node that is available on the cluster. The ratio of broker nodes to compute nodes can affect cluster performance.

Finally, if you want to configure the head node or a broker node in a failover cluster, you will need at least one additional computer for each failover cluster that you configure, which might reduce the number of nodes that you can add to your cluster. For more information about running an HPC cluster with failover clustering, see the Configuring Failover Clustering Step-by-Step Guide (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=194691), and Configuring Windows HPC Server for High Availability with SOA Applications (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=194786).

There are three ways to add nodes to your cluster:

  • Deploy nodes from bare metal. The operating system and all the necessary HPC cluster features are automatically installed on each node as it is added to the cluster. No manual installation of the operating system or other software is required. Bare metal deployment is only possible for compute nodes and broker nodes.

  • Add preconfigured nodes. The nodes are already running one of the supported operating systems, and HPC Pack 2008 R2is manually installed on each node. This is the only way to add workstation nodes to your cluster. You can also add preconfigured compute nodes and broker nodes.

  • Import a node XML file. A node XML file contains a list of all the nodes that will be added to the cluster. This XML file can be used to add preconfigured nodes or to deploy nodes from bare metal. For more information about node XML files, see Creating a Node XML File in the Design and Deployment Guide (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=194720).

The following is a list of details to take into consideration when choosing how to add nodes to your HPC cluster:

  • When deploying nodes from bare metal, Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 automatically generates computer names for your nodes. During the configuration process, you will be required to specify the naming convention to use when automatically generating computer names for the new nodes.

  • Nodes are assigned their computer name in the order that they are deployed.

  • If you want to add nodes from bare metal and assign computer names in a different way, you can use a node XML file. For more information about node XML files, see Creating a Node XML File in the Design and Deployment Guide (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=194720).

You can centralize the storage of your HPC cluster by using a network-attached storage array. A networked-attached storage array is a computer, storage system or appliance that provides storage resources over a network connection.

By using a storage array, the nodes in your cluster will not require a local hard disk drive to serve as a system disk, and instead use the storage resources on the storage array to boot the operating system over the network, using an iSCSI connection.

Nodes that are deployed over iSCSI are deployed from bare metal.

To have an iSCSI deployment, you will need the following:

  • One or more network-attached storage arrays

  • A network connection between the nodes in your cluster and the storage arrays

  • An iSCSI provider for the storage arrays, installed on the head node

noteNote
For detailed information about iSCSI deployment and step-by-step procedures for deploying iSCSI boot nodes, see the Deploying iSCSI Boot Nodes Step-by-Step Guide (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=194674).

The nodes in your HPC cluster must be members of an Active Directory domain. Before deploying your cluster, you must choose the Active Directory domain that you will use for your HPC cluster.

If you do not have an Active Directory domain to which you can join your cluster, or if you prefer not to join an existing domain, you can install the Active Directory Domain Services role on a computer that is running Windows Server 2008 R2 and then configure a domain controller on that computer. For more information about installing the Active Directory Domain Services role on a computer that is running Windows Server 2008 R2, see the AD DS Installation and Removal Step-by-Step Guide (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkID=119580).

ImportantImportant
Because of potential administrative difficulties and to ensure cluster performance, we do not recommend using the head node as a domain controller unless isolation is required (for example, for test purposes) or no other option exists.

CautionCaution
If you choose to install and configure an Active Directory domain controller on the head node, consult with your network administrator about the correct way to isolate the new Active Directory domain from the enterprise network, or how to join the new domain to an existing Active Directory forest.

During the configuration process of your HPC cluster, you must provide credentials for a domain user account that will be used for installation. You must choose an existing account or create a new account, before starting your cluster deployment.

The following is a list of details to take into consideration when choosing the user account:

  • The user account that you choose must be a domain account with enough privileges to create Active Directory computer accounts for the nodes and to join the nodes to the domain.

  • If the policies of your organization restrict you from using a domain account that can add new computers to the domain, you will need to ask your domain administrator to pre-create the computer objects for you in Active Directory Domain Services before you deploy your nodes. For more information, see Deploy Nodes with Pre-created Computer Objects in Active Directory (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=194363).

  • If part of your deployment requires access to resources on the enterprise network, the user account must have the necessary permissions to access those resources—for example, installation files that are available on a network server.

  • If you want to restart nodes remotely by using HPC Cluster Manager, the account must be a member of the local Administrators group on the head node. This requirement is only necessary if you do not have scripted power control tools that you can use to remotely restart the nodes.

Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 supports five cluster topologies. These topologies are distinguished by how the nodes in the cluster are connected to each other and to the enterprise network. The five supported cluster topologies are:

  • Topology 1: Compute nodes isolated on a private network

  • Topology 2: All nodes on enterprise and private networks

  • Topology 3: Compute nodes isolated on private and application networks

  • Topology 4: All nodes on enterprise, private, and application networks

  • Topology 5: All nodes on an enterprise network

For more information about each network topology and each HPC cluster network, see HPC Cluster Networking in the Design and Deployment Guide (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkID=194568).

When you are choosing a network topology, you must take into consideration your existing network infrastructure and the type of nodes that you will be adding to your cluster:

  • Decide which network in the topology that you have chosen will serve as the enterprise network, the private network, and the application network.

  • Do not have the network adapter that is connected to the enterprise network on the head node in automatic configuration (that is, the IP address for that adapter does not start with: 169.254). That adapter must have a valid IP address, dynamically or manually assigned (static).

  • If you choose a topology that includes a private network, and you are planning to add nodes to your cluster from bare metal:

    • Ensure that there are no Pre-Boot Execution Environment (PXE) servers on the private network.

    • If you want to use an existing DHCP server for your private network, ensure that it is configured to recognize the head node as the PXE server in the network.

  • If you want to enable DHCP server on your head node for the private or application networks and there are other DHCP servers connected to those networks, you must disable those DHCP servers.

  • If you have an existing Domain Name System (DNS) server connected to the same network as the nodes in your cluster, no action is necessary, but the nodes will be automatically deregistered from that DNS server.

  • Contact your system administrator to determine if Internet Protocol security (IPsec) is enforced on your domain through Group Policy. If IPsec is enforced on your domain through Group Policy, you may experience issues during deployment. A workaround is to make your head node an IPsec boundary server so that the other nodes in your cluster can communicate with the head node during PXE boot.

  • If you want to add workstation nodes to your cluster, topology 5 (all nodes on an enterprise network) is the recommended topology, but other topologies are supported. If you want to add workstation nodes on other topologies, see Adding Workstation Nodes Step-by-Step Guide (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkID=194376).

  • If you want to add broker nodes to your cluster, they must be connected to the network where the clients that are starting SOA sessions are connected (usually the enterprise network) and to the network where the nodes that are running the SOA services are connected (if different from the network where the clients are connected).

If you will be deploying nodes from bare metal and want to multicast the operating system image that you will be using during deployment, we recommend that you prepare for multicast by:

  • Enabling Internet Group Management Protocol (IGMP) snooping on your network switches, if this feature is available. This will help to reduce multicast traffic.

  • Disabling Spanning Tree Protocol (STP) on your network switches, if this feature is enabled.

noteNote
For more information about these settings, contact your network administrator or your networking hardware vendor.

The cluster administration console (HPC Cluster Manager) includes actions to start, shut down, and reboot nodes remotely. These actions are linked to a script file (CcpPower.cmd) that performs these power control operations using operating system commands. You can replace the default operating system commands in that script file with your own power control scripts, like Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) scripts provided by your vendor of cluster solutions.

In preparation for this integration, you must obtain all the necessary scripts, dynamically linked library (DLL) files, and all other components of your power control tools. After you have obtained all the necessary components, test them independently and ensure that they work as intended on the computers that you will be deploying as nodes in your cluster.

For information about modifying CcpPower.cmd to integrate your own scripted power control tools, see Scripted Power Control Tools in the Design and Deployment Guide (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=194718).

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