Grid makers eye up the enterprise

A number of major vendors this week aimed the idea of grid computing, thus far prominent primarily in academic and scientific communities, squarely at the enterprise during the Global Grid Forum in Toronto.

The Global Grid Forum, in fact, was one of the first major conferences where academics and scientists came together with hardware and software vendors to discuss how grid computing can be applied in the enterprise as well as how grids fit into other industry movements, such as Web-based applications, peer-to-peer networks, and Web services.

On the technology front, Grid computing took one step closer to becoming a standard compute utility for the enterprise last week as IBM Corp., Platform Computing Inc., and other movers in the Grid computing effort issued the first commercial grid specifications based on the Globus Toolkit.

The Globus Project is a grid computing research organization that has developed software tools that enable a stable and secure grid computing environment that embraces Web services, a range of key grid protocols such as XML, SOAP, and WSDL, database support, integration with J2EE, and an array of other grid-enhancing features.

At the fourth Global Grid Forum in Toronto, Big Blue rolled out its commercial packaging of the Globus Toolkit, the IBM Open Grid Service Architecture (OGSA).

Present at the Grid Forum, Irving Wladawsky-Berger, vice president of technology and strategy for IBM’s server group in Somers, New York, equated OGSA to “the Red Hatting” of the Linux operating system. He said that in the same way that Linux vendor Red Hat commercialized and enriched the Linux operating system, IBM would commercialize and improve the Globus Toolkit by adding its eLiza self-healing technology to OGSA.

Wladawsky-Berger said OGSA – and grid computing in general – solves a number of problems for companies facing the complexity of mushrooming network management tasks, collaborative business processes, outsourcing, and even small-business access to high-end computing facilities.

Platform Computing also used the forum as a backdrop to launch the beta version of Platform Globus, its commercial software suite wrapped around Globus technology. Available to the industry in March, Platform Globus packs the Globus Toolkit software, documentation, and technical support for grid computing, professional services dealing with the installation and configuration of a grid network, customization procedures, and grid computing training. Platform Computing will also offer services for Grid security, design, planning, and integration.

Looking to capitalize on the potential of grid computing as a delivery mechanism for future .Net initiatives, Microsoft endorsed OGSA and the grid computing effort. Unix variants such as Linux presently corner the market for grid operating systems, but due to its vast installed base, Windows OSes will have a tight relationship to grid computing, Wladawsky-Berger said.

The Global Grid Forum was the most recent culmination of a string of moves from companies looking to bring grid computing to corporate users. With the likes of IBM, Compaq, Sun Microsystems, and several grid-specific organizations coming together behind grid computing, little doubt remains that vendors are priming the technology for the enterprise.