GRIDWORLD: IBM, Univa partner on grids

IBM Corp. is to license commercial releases of Globus middleware from open-source grid software startup Univa Corp., according to a partnership deal due to be announced Monday. Big Blue will also use Univa’s software internally on its grid projects, according to a company executive.

The announcement will be made at the GridWorld show in Boston running Oct. 3-6.

“The important thing from our perspective for grid computing really to be successful is for it to be implemented based on open standards,” Ken King, vice president, grid computing at IBM, said in a phone interview Friday.

Univa’s three cofounders — Steve Tuecke, Ian Foster and Carl Kesselman — created the open-source Globus Project in 1995 and began development of the Globus Toolkit. They later renamed the project the Globus Alliance.

The grid toolkit includes software services and libraries for resource monitoring, discovery and management along with security and file management. In December 2004, Tuecke and the other co-founders formally launched Univa as a software and services company to offer commercial implementations of Globus.

Univa is currently working on delivering its first commercial product, Univa Globus Enterprise, which should appear by year-end, according to Tuecke.

“Our intention is to release it this year, we should be making an announcement in a couple of months,” he said in a phone interview.

The initial version of the software will be “well supported” to run across IBM’s eServer hardware families on both Linux and IBM’s flavor of Unix, AIX, Tuecke said, along with other vendors’ platforms.

“This sort of relationship is exactly why we created Univa,” Tuecke said. “IBM is very strategic for us, they’ve been a great partner of the Globus community for years.”

IBM’s King drew parallels with the development of Linux, with the Globus Toolkit playing the part of the open-source operating system while Univa is taking on the role of Linux distribution companies Red Hat Inc. or Novell Inc.’s Suse in creating a commercial product for enterprise use.

The agreement between IBM and Univa is non-exclusive and King said he hopes other companies, particularly application vendors, will strike up similar arrangements with the startup. Tuecke wouldn’t be drawn on the status of other pending deals, particularly one that has been long rumored with German enterprise software company SAP AG.

IBM has been a long-time backer of Globus, previously developing its own implementation of the open-source Globus Toolkit, according to King. Once Univa’s product ships, Big Blue will move both its in-house and customer developments based on version 3 of the open-source software over to Univa’s commercial implementation, he said. Univa Globus Enterprise will be based on the fourth iteration of the Globus Toolkit.

“We will continue to support customers using our [IBM] implementation,” King said. IBM will also continue to contribute technology back to the ongoing open-source development of the Globus Toolkit, he added.

In January, IBM, Sun Microsystems Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Intel Corp. teamed up to form the Globus Consortium, an effort to invest money and technical know-how in improving the Globus Toolkit, initially in the area of bug fixing.

Adopting the Linux analogy again, Tuecke likened the Globus Consortium and its functions to those carried out by the Open Source Development Labs Inc. (OSDL) in the Linux world where OSDL operates as a non-profit consortium which promotes use of the open-source operating system.

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