New Trade Group Pushes Adoption of Enterprise Grids

Frustrated by the modest pace of grid computing, four of the world’s top enterprise technology companies have joined to form a new trade group aimed at speeding up enterprise use of grid computing.

The Globus Consortium, which is backed by IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Sun and Intel as well as some smaller tech firms, is an offshoot of an existing trade group known as the Globus Alliance.

The intent of the consortium is to find out what enterprises want in grid computing tools, teach them about their options, then fund the development of software that meets their needs, says Greg Nawrocki, the group’s president.

Critical Advances

“This is about accelerating awareness of grids by providing education, enhancement and promotion of [grid options],” Nawrocki says. “The Alliance is limited by resources and manpower, and they can’t do this on their own.”

For nearly a decade, the Globus Alliance has been at work developing a set of open source grid computing development tools known as the Globus Toolkit. Historically, virtually everyone involved in the Alliance has come from the academic or scientific community. (In fact, “Globus”, the Globus Toolkit and Globus Alliances are registered trademarks held by the University of Chicago.)

Last year, about 50,000 users downloaded the Toolkit, which offers software services and libraries for grid resource monitoring, discovery, and management, as well as security and file management. According to research by the Alliance, the Toolkit is critical to the progress of about a half billion dollars in science and engineering projects across the world.

Moving Toward Adoption

But enterprise adoption isn’t moving as quickly. While a growing number of firms in computing-intensive industries such as biopharmaceutical development and financial market research are using grids, grid computing is still far from standard in most large companies.

With the launch of the consortium, the big firms hope to make it easier for enterprises to jump on the grid computing bandwagon. And with companies like SAP getting involved — the software giant recently ran successful trials of a grid-based version of its core R3 platform — the time is right for bigger enterprises to get more involved, participants say.

Next Steps

“The first obvious steps on Globus will be coming out of technical computing, but I believe the next step in the market is around underlying infrastructure for a much broader class of apps like SCM and CRM applications,” says Steve Tuecke, CEO of software firm Univa, who serves on the consortium’s board.

Univa, which is managed by Globus Alliance veterans Tuecke, Ian Foster and Carl Kesselman, hopes to be one of the first companies to profit from widespread adoption of commercially backed versions of the Toolkit. Univa plans to package, document and support Globus, and eventually build applications to compliment it, in much the same way Red Hat does with its Linux distribution.

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