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Beyond standards, critical technical enhancements must be made if enterprises are to embrace grids GRID COMPUTING has moved out of the labs and into mainstream commercial computing, with worldwide spend expected to rocket to $19.2 billion by 2010, from $714.9 million in 2005.

This is according to an Insight Research report, Grid Computing: A Vertical Market Perspective 2005-2010. The report examines spend in 14 verticals, noting that most near-term spend is in manufacturing and financial services.

The forecast may, however, be over-optimistic, considering the numerous technical and market hurdles, such as Web services infrastructure standards.


This is what Oracle hopes to resolve with its latest initiative - guidelines for businesses hoping to tap into grids.

It is spearheading a commercial consortium that aims to define standards for APIs (application programming interfaces) and functions as part of a commercial grid infrastructure.

Chuck Rozwat, executive VP for database server technologies at Oracle, who announced this at Oracle OpenWorld last month, says the consortium won`t compete with industry efforts like the Global Grid Forum (GGF), which he says is more closely aligned with academic goals.

Oracle is believed to be finalising agreements with players in the biotech, financial services and healthcare industries, for participation in the consortium.

Industry observers expect it to first tackle standardised definitions for building apps. It could reference work being done in Web services by, among others, the Organisation for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Other near-term goals might include creating standards for grid computing and data access, CNET reports.


Standards, however, are only part of the challenge. Other critical technical enhancements are on the way to expedite uptake of grids.

For starters, more applications with hooks into Web services and Service Oriented Architectures (SOA) - through their application programming interfaces (APIs) - will see the light. This will make it easier for grid-aware Web service applications to displace legacy client/server apps.

Other, related standards will also become more widespread in networking infrastructure, operating systems and applications. More grid-aware software and hardware should come to market.

Even then, various operational and process changes are still needed over the next two years. Companies will have to adopt automated, policy-based resource provisioning, amass enough grid-aware technology and implement policies to govern application access, use, prioritisation and security.


The learning curve will be steep and the landscape is volatile in terms of standards and technology, but early adopters have shown that the promise of grid computing is real.

One of the world`s largest integrated financial institutions, for example, implemented a grid solution to replace an ageing, under-performing and less-than-resilient derivatives risk management app. The grid-based application experiences far less than one hour downtime per month, reduced analytic processing time from two hours to 10 minutes and has driven huge increases in trader use of risk management tools (some traders run 100 jobs per day.)

The grid is the IT infrastructure of the future, and will be a prerequisite for business success - as it is central to business processes and new types of service, and a central component of product development and customer solutions.

If your organisation isn`t looking into Web services and SOAs right now, and your storage needs aren`t growing, then you may be able to ignore grids for another year or two.

On the other hand, if you think there might be a grid in the future of your IT shop, now is the time to bring network, server, storage and applications people together and get everyone up to speed.

Tags: grid  computing