Sun Takes Grid Computing to Next Level

Sun released Tuesday its Grid Engine Enterprise Edition 5.3, an updated beta version of the company's widely adopted resource allocation software that already manages in excess of 118,000 CPUs.

Sun Microsystems Inc. released Tuesday its Grid Engine Enterprise Edition 5.3, an updated beta version of the companys widely adopted resource allocation software that already manages in excess of 118,000 CPUs.

A new policy management function allows users to allocate tasks across different machines, bringing Sun one step closer to commercializing its technology. Peter Jeffcock, group marketing manager for technical marketing products at Sun, told BetaNews there are three clear stages of development in grid computing: cluster grids, campus grids and global grids. Tuesdays release brings Sun one step closer to realizing functional campus grids.

"With Sun Grid Engine, Enterprise Edition, Sun is building on the success of its Grid Engine software and taking grid computing to the next level--the campus grid," Jeffcock said. "Sun Grid Engine, Enterprise Edition provides greater control, incorporating a policy management function to allow multiple groups to easily share available compute cycles.

"While others are talking about global grids, Sun is powering the grid now and addressing the fact that grid adoption is an evolutionary process. Grid Engine Enterprise Edition addresses the next step in grid computing - campus grids - providing the management tools to allow enterprises to prioritize the processing of compute intensive tasks."

Sun has actively participated in establishing open standards for grid computing by joining competitors in backing industry organizations such as AVAKI and Globus. An open source version of Suns grid engine is also available to further the development of Sun-backed standards and discourage divergence toward proprietary frameworks.

Competitors Vie for Dominance

Grid computing promises to unleash an entire generation of distributed applications and services with far reaching implications for research and information systems. Today, the technology powers computationally heavy research in areas such as genetics and climate studies.

Rivals IBM and Microsoft have each worked to develop opposing grid technologies and solutions. IBM subscribes to the same course as Sun in the establishment of open standards, and is also an active supporter of Globus. An IBM spokesperson claimed that the company will continue to maintain a leadership role as the technology matures. The United Kingdoms National Grid, a virtual super computer that encompasses the entire nation, is a late example of IBMs continued foray into the realm of distributed computing.

In an interview, IBM raised the question of whether or not Sun would be willing to subscribe to developing grids that are heterogeneous in nature - capable of running across platforms and providing interoperability with other systems as opposed to attempting to usurp the technology by mandating solutions which operate solely on its own platform.

Suns latest grid engine comes on the heels of Tuesdays release of IBMs Globus Toolkit for IBM eServer systems. The software runs on either AIX or Linux, and a version of Globus Toolkit Version 1.1.4 is available free of cost. Later this week Big Blue is expected to make additional announcements in relation to grid computing during the Supercomputing 2001 conference in Denver, Colorado.

Microsoft Corp. research is actively engaged in studying distributed computing with projects ranging from Farsite -- a fault tolerant remote file system -- to the Millennium, a project to build distributed systems. The company has also financed university studies.

"Were glad to see the proponents of centralized computing realizing the future is distributed processing," a Microsoft spokesperson told BetaNews. "Where processing power is located is orthogonal to Web services - Web services is about how different systems talk to one another."

Customers will see the fruits of Suns latest grid computing efforts sometime in 2002 with no targeted release date set at this time. For more information and to download the beta visit Suns Web site.