HP, IBM and Akamai Bring Web Services to Grid Computing

In an effort to pair and propel two emerging technologies, IBM, HP, Akamai and other tech companies have proposed new specs to integrate grid computing with Web services.

The companies, which announced the new WS-Notification and WS-Resource Framework specs, said the proposed standards represent the first availability of a common, standards-based infrastructure designed for business applications working in conjunction with grid resources.

Rob Batchelder, industry analyst and president of IT consultancy Relevance, said that joining grid computing with Web services makes perfect sense. He told TechNewsWorld that there is “a natural intersection” between the two technologies.

“If there are resources you want to aggregate to solve a problem, there needs to be a common language for doing that,” Batchelder said. “Web services provide that common language for discovering and advertising those services.”

Easing Deployment

The proposed Web services specifications — backed by IBM, HP, Akamai, the Globus Alliance, Sonic Software and Tibco — are intended to define a scalable architecture that has the ability to connect resources (such as servers) to logical constructs (such as business agreements and contracts).

The new standard would let customers perform just-in-time procurement with multiple suppliers who all adhere to the same specifications. Plus, the system would allow for grid-based workload balancing and the ability to detect system outages and recover from those outages automatically. One example of the standard in action would be suppliers automatically getting notified to replenish inventory once current inventory drops to a certain level.

“These new Web services specifications will significantly extend the types of enterprise solutions customers can easily deploy,” said IBM director of dynamic e-business technologies Karla Norsworthy. “These new specifications provide customers with the ability to use a common Web-services-based infrastructure that supports grid- and management-based solutions.”

Switzerland of Technology

Batchelder said a common Web services framework would address one of the biggest challenges associated with grid computing — network management and monitoring — and would allow businesses to advertise their services automatically. The analyst said that, once aware of their partners’ services, companies must be able to communicate seamlessly — and the new Web services spec will provide the common vernacular to move in that direction.

“That discovery and interface needs to be standardized,” Batchelder said. “Of course, we’re talking about a 10- to 20-year evolution.”

While some observers pointed out that the Web services standards proposed by IBM, HP and the others differ from similar standards advanced by Microsoft and partners, Batchelder said all of the parties promoting Web services realize that “everybody needs to do this.”

“It’s like Switzerland — you have different languages within that country, but it still functions well,” he said. “All of the companies ultimately will do the same thing. It’s just a question of which language a company is comfortable speaking.”

Enough Work for All

IBM spokesperson Ron Favali agreed, pointing out that one of the partners working on the standards announced this week — software company Tibco — also had worked with Microsoft on the recently announced WS-Eventing Web services standard.

“We felt we used this specification to include certain functionalities, specifically grids,” Favali told TechNewsWorld. “Microsoft took a different approach this time. We do expect sometime that the two specs will find a way to merge.

“There’s a lot of work yet to be done in this area,” Favali added. “It’s going to take a lot of companies to do it.”

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