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Integrating with Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003
workbook for each set of parameters. The results could be stored in the original workbooks, in
workbooks or workbook snapshots created on the side, or extracted programmatically and placed in a
database or some different output.
This section described each of the solutions at a high level. They are far from being complete, and serve
only to stimulate your thinking about how you can leverage Excel Services to offload workbook
calculations from the client to the server.
Integrating with Windows Compute
Cluster Server 2003
Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 is a Microsoft product that provides a high-performance
computing platform based on Windows. With this product, you can set up a compute cluster that has Excel
Services installed on it. It provides simplified deployment and management of new machines that you
add to a cluster, which enables you to grow your cluster as your needs grow.
Another key component is a robust job scheduler that you can call programmatically. You can use the job
scheduler to schedule workbook calculations on the cluster. The functionality that is most relevant to the
scenarios described earlier is the error-recovery provided by the job scheduler. The error-recovery features
take over when a certain job fails to execute. In such a case, the scheduler automatically reschedules the
job. If the problem is with the compute node the job has been scheduled to, the scheduler is capable of
working around such nodes and routing jobs to other available nodes. As nodes become available again,
the job scheduler automatically adds them to the pool of available resources.
For applications such as the parametric sweep scenario described in the previous section, this
functionality can be critical. If it is imperative that all iterations or all workbooks get calculated, leveraging the job
scheduler provided with Windows Compute Cluster can solve this need without you having to develop
your own solution to the problem.
As is true for all the scenarios described in this chapter, there is no out-of-the-box integration between
Excel Services and Windows Compute Cluster. This is something you can explore outside the scope of
this topic.
Summary
Excel Services provides robust and scalable server-side workbook calculation. There are many cases in
which offloading workbook calculation from client machines to the server makes sense. By doing this,
you can free up the end user’s desktop, provide a more robust environment for performing many
workbook calculations, and, in certain cases, reduce the overall time it takes to calculate the workbooks.
Though Excel Services and Excel client do not provide out-of-the-box functionality for offloading
calculations, you can build custom solutions that best suit your needs using the web service API provided by
the server.
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