Getting to Grids
Getting to Grids Hoping to make grids a reality for enterprises are a collection of leading vendors and high-powered researchers. The Globus Project, an academic collaboration that addresses the challenges presented by todays global, heterogeneous networks of computers, for example, is developing OGSA (Open Grid Services Architecture), a combination of grid computing standards and Web services standards that could make it easier for enterprises to develop applications that can run on grids.In addition, smaller vendors that traditionally offered grid software to customers in academic and research environments are now putting together enterprise grid products. Platform Computing Inc., of Markham, Ontario, recently released the newest version of its grid architecture software, Platform LSF 5, while Entropia Inc., of San Diego, has plans to integrate OGSA into its DCGrid products. Avaki Corp., DataSynapse Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co., among others, also offer grid solutions. While few enterprises are ready to use grid technologies for tasks outside research and development and design, Butterfly.net is intent on proving its possible to build a commercial business model on top of grid technology. Company executives spent the past two years working with IBM to build a grid that distributes the processing of video game interactions across a network of server farms co-located at IBM data centers. Butterfly.net needed to create one grid that could handle multiple games and allocate resources to a particular game on the fly, depending on need. The network, deployed earlier this year, enables Butterfly.net to support thousands of video gamers playing simultaneously over the Internet. The Butterfly Grid is built on proprietary software designed by Butterfly.net called Butterfly Grid MMG (Massively Multiplayer Game) Platform and the Globus Projects open-source Globus Toolkit. The Globus Toolkit allows Butterfly.net to monitor servers and distributes the processing needs of more popular games and populated areas to idle computing resources within the data center. By running its grid software at an IBM data center, Butterfly.net can draw the computer power it needs when the number of gamers using its network spikes. The Butterfly Grid is powered by rack-mounted IBM Xseries servers running Red Hat Inc.s Red Hat Linux 7.2 and an IBM DB2 database. This month, Butterfly.net began to combine its grid network with Web services technologies, launching Web services for programmers. Using IBMs WebSphere framework and software from CollabNet Inc., of Brisbane, Calif., Butterfly.net allows video game developers to deploy new games to the grid by automatically loading game-specific logic and art assets onto the Butterfly Grid.
At the same time, technology vendors are pushing the concept of enterprise grid computing, many with the expectation of using grids to offer hosted computing utilities. Although Sun Microsystems Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., got an early jump on grids when it acquired software maker Gridware Inc., of San Jose, Calif., in 2000, other computing giants are now backing the concept as well. IBM CEO Sam Palmisano recently declared the Armonk, N.Y., company will support grid computing across the enterprise as it does Linux. IBM backed up its stated support by submitting the OGSA specification to the Global Grid Forum in conjunction with the Globus Project. Ensuring that it doesnt get left out, Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., gave Globus $1 million this year to ensure that the organizations Globus Toolkit will run on Windows XP and the .Net Web services infrastructure.