Introduction to Microsoft Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003

Applies To: Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003

High-performance computing is increasingly being achieved with clusters of industry standard servers. These clusters can range from a few nodes (individual computers) to many. Wiring, provisioning, configuring, monitoring, and managing these nodes and providing user access can be complex. The goal of Microsoft® Windows® Compute Cluster Server 2003 software is to simplify deployment and management of high-performance clusters and to reduce total cost of ownership. This can result in wider adoption of computational clusters at the personal and workgroup level.

Microsoft® Windows® Compute Cluster Server 2003 consists of two CD-ROMS:

  • Microsoft® Windows Server™ 2003 operating system, Compute Cluster Edition. This disk contains Windows Server 2003, Compute Cluster Edition. This operating system is based on the Microsoft® Windows Server™ 2003 operating system, Standard x64 Edition.

  • Microsoft® Compute Cluster Pack. This disk contains the services, interfaces, and supporting software needed to create and configure the cluster nodes, as well as utilities and management infrastructure.


Each Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 cluster consists of a head node and one or more compute nodes. The head node mediates all access to the cluster resources and acts as a single point for cluster deployment, management, and job scheduling. At a minimum, for testing or development purposes, a cluster can consist of only a head node, which also can accept jobs in a compute node role.

Head node

The head node provides user interface and management services to the cluster. The user interface consists of the Compute Cluster Administrator (a Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in), the Compute Cluster Job Manager (a Win32 graphic user interface), and a command-line interface (CLI). Management services include job scheduling, job and resource management, node management, and Remote Installation Services (RIS). The head node can also serve as a network address translation gateway (part of Internet Connection Services) between the public network and the private network that make up the cluster.

Compute node

A compute node is a computer configured as part of a compute cluster to provide computational resources for the end user. Compute nodes on a Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 cluster must have a supported operating system installed (see Compute Cluster Software Requirements). Compute nodes with different hardware configurations can be in the same compute cluster.

Job Scheduler

The Job Scheduler Service runs on the head node and is responsible for job admission and queue management, resource allocation, and job execution. This service communicates with the Node Manager Service that runs on all compute nodes.

Management infrastructure

The Compute Cluster Pack offers a complete management infrastructure, which allows the cluster administrator to deploy and manage compute nodes. This infrastructure consists of the cluster services running on the head node and all compute nodes in the cluster, providing the administrative, user, and command-line interfaces used to administer the cluster, submit jobs, and manage the job queue.

Client utilities

Compute Cluster Pack Setup offers the option of installing just the client utilities. The client utilities include the Compute Cluster Administrator snap-in. By installing the CCP client utilities on a 32-bit workstation on the public network, a cluster administrator can manage compute clusters and the job queue from the public network.

You are restricted in what tasks you are permitted to do from a remote console, such as adding RIS images. Therefore, it is preferable to administer the cluster from the head node. One alternative is to create a remote desktop connection to a head node, and then run the Compute Cluster Administrator snap-in on that computer.

Compute Cluster Administrator and Job Manager

Cluster administrators and cluster users utilize these interfaces for cluster operations and job submissions and management. You can use Compute Cluster Administrator to configure the cluster, manage nodes, and monitor cluster activity and health. The Job Manager is used for job creation, submission, and monitoring.

Command-line interface

The Compute Cluster Pack offers a command-line interface (CLI) for node and job management. These operations can also be scripted. Administrators can use the CLI to automate job, job queue, and node operations.