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Platform says grid computing will rejuvenate IT. (Infrastructure News Review).

The drive toward grid computing could rejuvenate the technology sector, according to grid software specialist Platform Computing Inc.

The company has been focused on the core technologies that make up grid computing--distributed computing, workload management and job scheduling--for 10 years, and now believes that grid computing is coming of age.

With grid computing creating a separation of applications from the underlying hardware architecture, and enabling improved capacity utilization of that hardware, Platform believes that grid will provide a boost for software vendors who will be able to better justify costs associated with new deployments.

"When grid for commercial applications is fully deployed, it should fuel a boost in the technology sector," said Kieran Lees, Platform's managing director for northern Europe, "because applications that can't be cost justified will be much more simply deployed cost effectively."

A boost in software deployment rates could provide a knock-on boost to the industry as a whole, Lees said, although he warned that it would not happen without some changes from software vendors to make their products more suitable for grid environments.

"One of the fundamental things that has to happen is that the volume of products that are grid-enabled has to be increased," he said. "Applications need to become much more integrated [with grid technologies]. Operating systems and development environments need to become integrated in their own right."

Another requirement for change from software vendors is in licensing policies, according to Lees. "Most software vendors have moved to a per-CPU pricing model, but grid enables unlimited CPUs. This is both an opportunity and a threat for customers and vendors. Grid will drive a fundamental change in software licensing," he said.

Lees added that software vendors will need to change to concurrent licensing, whether it be based on the number of users, licenses or CPUs, and to introduce more flexibility in charging models alongside license management and usage metering tools.

One of the ways that software vendors can improve their technological suitability for grid computing is to focus on integration with the Globus Toolkit, which is quickly becoming the standard for grid environments as the basis of the Open Grid Services Architecture integration of grid and web services technologies.

"Any organization driving their infrastructure should base it on Globus, but all the clever functionality comes not from Globus, but the software vendors around that," Lees said. The open source Globus Toolkit is distributed by Platform as the Platform Globus Toolkit, and is also embedded in the latest version of IBM Corp's WebSphere.

IBM's VP of systems, EMEA, Luigi Freguia, agrees that Globus and the OGSA are fundamental as a standard platform for grid computing. "OGSA is all about getting web services standards and grid standards together and because of that it's the only thing that will get grid off the ground," he said. "If you want to go into e-business on demand you need to have the middleware take care of it... this will allow true on-demand computing."

As well as new technologies, the move to grid computing will also require a change of thinking from CIOs, according to Freguia. "The real winners are those that can see from a line-of-business perspective the short-term benefits that will trigger long-term changes," he said.

"The CIO has to be promoting initiatives and have the vision to take advantage of pilots to start aligning the infrastructure to be more cost effective in responding from an on-demand perspective."

Platform's Lees agrees that CIOs have to take a lead in changing the culture of IT ownership, eliminating what Platform calls "server hugging" by departments or individuals. "Server hugging is something that needs to go and CIOs need to be very proactive about this," he said.

Despite all the challenges for grid computing, Lees is convinced that it represents a fundamental shift in computing architectures, more so than the move to client/server computing, because it is being driven by reducing costs rather than increasing ease of use.

"The commercial drivers for grid to be the next computing architecture are way too high for it not to happen," he said.
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Publication:MarketWatch: Infrastructure
Date:Jun 25, 2003
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