EGAs Reference Model Beckons Enterprises to Grid

The vendor-dominated alliance has produced the industry's first grid computing road map rather than marketing fluff, an analyst says.

The Enterprise Grid Alliance—a consortium of about 30 vendors and enterprise grid users—on Tuesday will release the industrys first Reference Model for enterprise grids.

The model, downloadable from the EGAs site, includes three vendor-neutral components: a common lexicon of grid terms, a model that classifies the management and life cycles of the components required for enterprise grids, and a set of use cases that demonstrate the requirements for enterprise grid computing in specific enterprise scenarios.

These are the first fruits after a year of work by the EGA. The body came together in April 2004, shortly after Oracle Corp. launched its 10g product line, with the purpose of driving enterprise adoption of grid.

The EGA joined a slew of bodies working on grid computing, including the Global Grid Forum, the Globus Consortium, the World Wide Web Consortium and the Distributed Management Task Force.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read about Microsoft and GridIrons new encoding accelerator.

The Reference Model itself fills a gap in that lineup, said Paul Strong, chairman of the EGAs Technical Steering Committee and a systems architect at Sun Microsystems Inc.

"At the high level, you have the GGF," Strong said. "They have the OGSA [Open Grid Services Architecture], a broad architectural description of grids that captures every type of workload and every environment. At the bottom of the stack are organizations like the DMTF that describe components [such as disks, storage arrays and network components]. But theres a notable gap between those."

Thats where the Reference Model comes in, he said, it being a tool for understanding sets of components that comprise the data center, along with their relationships with each other and what Strong referred to as their life cycles—in other words, how components fit in to existing data center architectures.

"If I come up with a new technology, grid being one, and you want to adopt it in a given data center, it had better fit in with existing architecture, or the data center just wont adopt it," he said.

/zimages/6/28571.gifRead details here about Suns Grid initiative, intended to ease customers transition to grid computing.

Strong said the Reference Models lexicon is aimed at clearing the haze around the collection of terms used to talk about grid.

"The grid landscape as it exists today is somewhat confusing for some people," said Strong, in San Francisco. "There are a lot of groups and a lot of misunderstanding. If you talk to individuals and analysts and talk about a set of common problems, you come up with a set of terms that are not synonymous. Theres a common set of problems they want to solve, and vendors [use terms such as] grid, autonomic computing, [etc.], that sit around that and solve a set of problems. Theyre broadly similar, but not the same thing. Theres an inordinate amount of confusion in the space."

The use cases are derived from the EGA member organizations, including customers of Sun and Oracle, as well as from EGAs enterprise user companies, the financial services firm UBS Investment Bank and the United Kingdoms e-Science Programme.

Next Page: The EGAs work seems relevant for enterprise.