Grid awareness growing…but it’s a long journey

In what Oracle Corp. calls the mapping of the world’s journey to grid computing, the company released its most recent grid index on Wednesday.

The global score was 4.41 out of a possible 10, up from 3.1 last fall. Canada scored a 4.33. This result is on par with the likes of the U.K. and the Benelux countries, but lagged everyone from the U.S. and Germany to South East Asia and Europe’s Nordic countries. Admittedly, the latter two are the only ones that got a grade over five.

There is, however, a silver lining. Canada is ahead of the global average on service oriented architecture (SOA) adoption, with almost 60 per cent of companies interviewed (100) either actively using SOA or intending to become active this year. SOA, viewed as the software precursor to many grid implementations, is often defined as interoperable application services. On the hardware side (blade servers) Canada also fared quite well. Slightly over a third of the Candian companies surveyed are using, or intend to use, these server appliances in the next 12 months — as compared to about 27 per cent globally.

Where Canada lags is in its ability to standardize its technology, which, while by no means a necessity for grid computing, is helpful. It got a rating of about 5.6 versus 6.2 globally, and slightly over seven in the Asia-Pacific region. That Canada scored lower in this area should not come as a surprise, said Rodger Walker, regional director, technology, with Oracle Corp. Canada. In Asia, “they are really a technology green field,” he said. “They have the opportunity to start from scratch.”

All countries scored badly on their commitment to grid (global average under threee) and in their ability to figure out how to drive ROI from grid computing (under two). But in both cases Canada scored higher than the global average.

And though Walker wouldn’t name the slow-poke, he did say that four of five of Canada’s major banks have adopted or are moving toward a grid environment. All major telcos are on board, as are most insurance companies, he said.

Dale Vile, service director with Quocirca Ltd., who headed the grid index research, said one area of concern was the nearly 50 per cent of companies — those which viewed their grid commitment as low — that would actually ration IT supply when systems were overloaded or “just struggle through.”

“We found that quite frightening,” he said. These numbers are more than four times higher than for those companies highly committed to grid computing.

Both he and Walker chastised the media for not covering grid more, since it is a “very natural part of IT evolution.”

Steve Shaw, business development manager, business critical systems group, Hewlett-Packard (Canada) Co., said grid is moving mainstream. “We see a lot of companies in manufacturing and healthcare (moving to grid)…to drive value,” he said. “That is what it really is all about.”

Over 1,350 IT professionals were interviewed worldwide for the survey. It is available at this site.

For more information on Grid Computing including a primer plus more articles, case studies, white papers, industry links and more, be sure to visit our currently featured Grid Computing Spotlight.

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