Digipede to Release SDK for Windows Grids

Company says its framework works with Visual Studio .Net, enabling developers to focus on the core concepts of their applications rather than spending time trying to grid-enable them.

Digipede Technologies LLC next week will deliver a new SDK for its Windows-based grid computing environment.

Oakland, Calif.-based DigipedeTechnologies LLC is expected to announce the Digipede Framework Software Development Kit for the Digipede Network at the Microsoft PDC next week in Los Angeles, the company said.

John Powers, chief executive of Digipede, said the Digipede framework enables developers to focus on the core concepts of their applications as opposed to spending time trying to grid-enable them. The Digipede Framework SDK handles the grid-enablement and can be used with Microsofts development tool suite, Visual Studio .Net.

Digipedes grid environment is a Windows-based distributed computing software solution built on the .Net platform. The Digipede Network distributes complex computing jobs across a network by dynamically allocating the computing power of both dedicated and idle resources, Powers said.

"The software development kit enables developers to grid-enable their applications very easily," Powers said. "It allows for finer control over jobs and tasks, and it integrates tightly with Visual Studio .Net." Powers said the SDK supports Visual Studio 2003 and will support Visual Studio 2005 when it becomes available in November. "We provide a .Net API and a COM API."

Meanwhile, Powers said the Digipede Framework SDK is part of the companys effort to bring grid computing into the mainstream—from primarily being focused on the scientific and engineering markets to the small and medium-sized business market. "Our experience is that companies of all sizes need increased application performance, as long as they can get it without the high cost and complexity imposed by other solutions," he said.

Glen Boyer, IT manager at Pacific Event Productions, in San Diego, said his company is just such an organization. Boyer said Pacific Events organizes several thousand events a year and maintains a Web-based reporting process that demands a solution that scales to deliver high-performance compute power. Boyer said he looked at options such as multi-processing boxes and various enterprise applications, but they were not the answer. In addition, "We saved about $100,000 in hardware and software licensing costs," as opposed to the alternative solutions he considered. And he said with the Digipede solution his company was able to scale its application with existing staff and resources, rather than hire expert consultants.

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Boyer said the primary reason for going with a grid "was the paradigm shift from standard desktop applications to the Web-based environment. Over a period of 15 years our company has grown and has required a variety of software solutions to meet our ever-changing needs. Now 15 years into this process we have several software packages that service those specific needs, however these programs do not communicate with each other. Now we find ourselves having cumbersome work-arounds, multiple data-entry instances of the same information, which not only provides for more potential errors but overall is time-consuming and inefficient."

Pacific Events solution was to consolidate all the programs into a single Web-based application, Boyer said.

"This allows for unlimited remote capabilities without the complex and expensive overhead," he added. It also opens up many new opportunities for us to allow our thousands of clients and vendors access to our system similar to online banking."

Meanwhile, the Digipede SDK "allows us the ability to have our systems completely automated," Boyer said. He added that he looked at all kinds of alternatives, including other grid solutions, but they "were either very expensive per node or their definition of grid was limited to a specific product" or platform, he said.

"We could purchase three, five or 10 servers, plus the server OS for each and configure them for load balancing or clustering," Boyer said. "Now for each you have concerns for redundancy, for power, RAM, NICs [network interface cards], hard drives etc. … much wasted time, energy and money. We could get a server with multi-processors, which leads to other licensing issues with certain database vendors. We could go all out for a clustered system, which has all the redundancy required but potentially without the processing power."

However, going with clustering or other server-based solutions, "you are then tied to those servers and keep them isolated from outside influences," Boyer said. "Whereas with the Digipede, a simple agent can be installed on any workstation (or server) and complete the same task. As new workstations are added to the network with faster motherboards, processors and more RAM, you can simply tap into that resource pool without all the hassle associated with setting up servers."

The Digipede Network is available in two editions: the Digipede Network Team Edition, which is targeted at departments or groups with up to 20 computers; and the Digipede Network Professional Edition, which is targeted at enterprises with up to thousands of desktops, servers and cluster nodes across a network.

Digipede Network consists of three parts: Digipede Agents, which manage desktops, servers or cluster nodes and the tasks that run on them; Digipede Server, which is responsible for managing workflow throughout the system; and Digipede Workbench, through which users can define and run jobs, Powers said.

Meanwhile, Powers said Digipede anticipates the release of the Windows Compute Cluster Edition in the first half of next year. "We will interoperate with that system," to offer users greater options, he said.

"My belief is any company would benefit from this capability, whether they are large, medium or small," Boyer said.

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