Oracle Leads New Grid Consortium

The Enterprise Grid Alliance will provide reference models, security recommendations and specifications targeted to enable enterprises to run computing grids that run within an enterprise.

A new vendor consortium hopes to move grid computing beyond the world of science and into the world of business.

The Enterprise Grid Alliance, which was formally launched on Tuesday, will provide reference models, security recommendations and specifications targeted to enable enterprises to run computing grids that run within an enterprise.

"We are primarily concerned about grids within the data center; we are not concerned about capturing CPU cycles on widely distributed desktops," said Donald Deutsch, EGA president and vice president of standards strategy and architecture at Oracle Corp.

Oracle, the prime driver behind the EGA, announced last fall at the rollout of its Oracle 10g database and application server technology that it intended to form a consortium to promote grid computing. It was joined Tuesday by about 20 other IT vendors, including Sun Microsystems Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. and EMC Corp. in the creation of the EGA. Other EGA members include Fujitsu Siemens Computers, Advanced Micro Devices Inc., NEC Corp., Network Appliance Inc., Enigmatec Corporation Ltd., Force10 Networks Inc., Cassatt Corp., Cisco Systems Inc., Citrix Systems Inc., Data Synapse, Novell Inc., Optena Corp., Paremus Ltd. and Topspin Communications Inc.

All computing grids connect pools of processing power, storage and application logic via a network. Deutsch described the difference between the computing grids that currently grab the headlines and the grids that EGA envisions as falling into two areas.

For one, academic and scientific grids are characterized by widely distributed systems and distributed ownership of those systems, while enterprise grids bundle systems within a smaller footprint and are owned by a single entity. Also, scientific research applications running on grids tend to try to solve one big problem by spreading computing resources out while enterprise applications and business-specific software that would run on an enterprise grid are more transaction-oriented, Deutsch said.

"Grid computing is at a tipping point as it moves from the academic sphere to the enterprise," said Shahin Kahn, vice president of the Product Marketing and Planning System Products Group at Sun. "EGA has a much sharper focus on enterprise computing than others. I think we are going to have a much higher focus on attributes that enterprises want. … Its about transaction computing versus long-running batch jobs."

The EGAs initial working groups will address grid security, component provisioning, data provisioning and utility accounts, as well as create reference models.

The EGA expects to form memorandums of understanding with existing grid standards bodies, like the Global Grid Forum, in order to share intellectual property.

Conspicuously missing from the founding members of the EGA are IBM, a big proponent of grids, and big software vendors Microsoft Corp. and SAP AG. Deutsch said that EGA members have discussed the consortium with each of these companies but have not come to any conclusions.

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