As far as product and other news from the vendors goes, DataSynapse announced on Tuesday the release of GridServer 4.0 Virtual Enterprise Edition, the newest version of its flagship application infrastructure software. The company said key new features include distributed data-caching capability, support for 10 core application models, and enhanced functionality for virtualizing application and data components as well as stateful Web services. Tony Bishop, chief technology architect at DataSynapse, said the companys grid-caching capability introduces an abstraction layer.In the database, for example, where theres a lot of contention for read- and write-type processing, DataSynapses technology alleviates the read-bound processing challenges by automatically opening more connections into data sources.DataSynapse also can pull information from data sources to alleviate write-bound issues, Bishop said. "Weve become the front end that [leverages] infrastructure to give it temporary expansion of more connections and pulls information before its needed, so we can stop pounding on the database," he said. During the opening keynote of GlobusWorld, much was made of service-oriented architecture and Web services. Read more here. Essentially, DataSynapse virtualizes business logic and access to data in an open-standards-based framework. Bishop gave the example of ETL (extraction, transform, load) processes. Data gets pulled from multiple systems and split into transactional processes, and then a connection opens up to load it into a data warehouse. That transform process is usually sprayed over some clustered system and clustered sessions. The faster you can transform and load that information, the better off youll be, but bottlenecks often occur in transforming and loading the data. With Grid Server, users can expand the number of transformation and load sessions on a temporary basis, Bishop said, limiting bottlenecks that would occur in typical processes. He said performance gains are ranking in the range of a 50-fold increase. For its part, IBM had two announcements: a grid scholars challenge, and Accelerated Design Service, an offering from IBM Global Services designed to quickly get enterprises up on grid. Ken King, vice president of grid computing at IBM, said 3,000 of IBMs Global Support specialists are set to offer a variety of services: Grid Innovation Workshops, which are two- and three-day workshops introducing grid computing; the Grid Value at Work tool, which calculates the value output of grid computing based on industry templates; Grid Computing Application Enablement, a service geared to grid-enable applications; and Grid Solution Deployment Services. IBMs Grid Scholars Challenge is a contest for American and Canadian students and faculty advisers that is designed to expand understanding of grid computing. IBM is looking for three types of project submissions: proposals for innovative grid open standards or architectures; evaluation of an existing grid standard or implementation; or a proposal for proof of concept, prototype implementation or contribution to an open-source grid implementation. IBM is accepting registrations online here until April 8. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest utility computing news, reviews and analysis.