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IBM, Microsoft Eschew New Grid Group

By John P. Mello Jr.
Apr 22, 2004 8:51 AM PT

A new group committed to evangelizing grid computing formed this week, with its inaugural roster boasting such high-tech heavy hitters as Oracle, Sun Microsystems, EMC, NEC, Fujitsu Siemens and HP.

IBM, Microsoft Eschew New Grid Group

Called the Enterprise Grid Alliance, or EGA, the new consortium seeks to create standards for critical business functions and formulate compliance testing for these standards, said Dan Kusnetzky, vice president of system software research at IDC.

"Standards bodies like the [EGA] are critical to enterprise grid computing as it emerges over the next five years," he said. "Working in conjunction with other grid alliances, the EGA can place a stake in the ground to define the solutions and specifications essential for organizations to adopt enterprise grid computing."

Conspicuous Absences

Despite the group's support from so many big names, neither IBM nor Microsoft has joined this alliance thus far. This may pose a problem for the organization's future, several analysts said.

"The problem with this EGA alliance is that neither Microsoft nor IBM are onboard," Lou Agosta, lead analyst for data warehousing and data management at Forrester Research, told TechNewsWorld. "That's kind of a showstopper."

"I find it interesting that IBM wasn't part of the announcement," Evans Data analyst Joe McKendrick told TechNewsWorld. "IBM has been one of the leading -- if not the leading -- company in promoting grid computing technology."

Own Agenda?

"I'm not clear why IBM didn't participate," McKendrick said. "Maybe they have their own agenda, and they want to pursue their own leadership strategy in this area."

IBM's and Microsoft's pursuit of their own agendas in such hot technologies as Web services has left each of them open to past criticism. Last October, Dwight Davis, vice president and practice director at Summit Strategies, wrote in a report that Microsoft's and IBM's "seemingly iron grip on the evolution of Web services has engendered more than a little resentment among other industry players."

Could the companies be making a similar play in the grid computing arena? "It's possible," Forrester's Agosta said. "But I think it's probably more likely they just don't want to promiscuously sign up for something that they're not sure is going to take off or not, and they want to be courted a little bit more."

Serious Group

Agosta added that he expects IBM eventually will join the group. "It would be great if they did, because this is a serious group," he said.

Though newly formed groups like the EGA want to have as many players as possible signed on before launching, new members tend to filter in over time, according to John Humphreys, research manager for workstations and high-performance computing systems at IDC.

Just because the alliance is starting off with a smaller subset doesn't mean it will end up in a dead end, he told TechNewsWorld. "Microsoft could join tomorrow. So could IBM."

IBM Wooed

EGA president Donald Deutsch, who is also vice president for standards strategy and architecture at Oracle, told TechNewsWorld that, although he has been talking with IBM for quite a while, he has been unable to persuade it to join the group.

"I've worked very closely with people from IBM in a number of forums, and basically I've told them that they should be there," he said, adding that Microsoft also had been contacted about membership in the group.

"We would love to have Microsoft at the table," he said. "We would love to have IBM at the table. We would love to have anyone who thinks they have a stake in grid computing and wants to grow the market."

Enterprise Upside

Grid computing has largely been used in the high-performance, academic and research areas, though it is starting to penetrate the enterprise market. A survey released by Evans Data earlier this year reported that one in every five companies potentially could deploy the technology in the next two years.

"The real upside opportunity for grid is if it can break into the enterprise environment," IDC's Humphreys said. "Then it becomes an interesting technology to be involved in because the size of the market is 10 times the size of the high-performance, technical computing market."


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