Platform Computing Looks to ISVs to Open Enterprise Doors

The grid software maker sees OEM deals as a path into the enterprise, though widespread adoption may take a while.

Platform Computing is looking to partnerships with software vendors as a way of getting its grid computing products into enterprises.

Enterprises tend to be more comfortable with packaged software offerings, so forming OEM partnerships with ISVs is the logical way to gain traction in those businesses, according to Platform Computing CEO Songnian Zhou.

Zhou pointed to Platforms partnership with SAS Institute, announced last fall, as an example of the companys enterprise strategy.

Its only a matter of time before grid computing—linking smaller servers together to create a high-end server environment that is dynamic and flexible, and managed like a larger high-end system—moves from the high-performance technical computing arena and into mainstream enterprises, Zhou said in an interview with eWEEK.

Most of the companys 13 years have been spent selling its products—such as its LSF and Symphony workload processing and scheduling software—directly into the HPTC space and to early adopters in such areas as financial services and life sciences, where customers are more comfortable with the idea of sharing computers, Zhou said.

The question now, he said, is, "going forward, can the grid environment … be applied to enterprise applications" such as ERP (enterprise resource planning) and CRM (customer relationship management)?

Enterprises currently arent rushing to immediately change the way they run their entire IT infrastructure, Zhou said. However, there is interest in creating such a distributed environment, he said.

"Nobody is ready to embrace the big vision," he said. "But everyone is interested in examining the first step. … Just do the projects and expand the scope, step by step."

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He predicted that it will be another 10 years before grid computing is commonplace in the enterprise, as businesses get more comfortable with the idea, more grid-ready applications are developed and the necessary standards evolve.

Platform Computing isnt the only technology vendor looking to make inroads into the enterprise with its grid technology. Other companies, such as Sun Microsystems, see a future there, and most major players have some sort of utility computing initiative underway, a technology that also relies on a distributed computing environment.

Platform Computing, of Markham, Ontario, made its first big step in that direction at last years LinuxWorld show in San Francisco, when it introduced its Platform Enterprise Grid Orchestrator, or EGO, based on its LSF and Symphony offerings.

The system enables users to bring applications into a grid environment without having to rewrite the applications, something that had been a hurdle for software vendor adoption of grid computing.

In addition, Platforms VM Orchestrator management software can manage all virtual environments, supporting technologies such as those from VMware and the Xen open-source virtualization project.

Platform then partnered with SAS, of Cary, N.C., in October, to integrate its grid management capabilities into SAS products, including SAS Connect—for submitting jobs to a host system—and SAS Grid Manager. Zhou said it was an important step for Platform because SAS offerings gave it another avenue into the enterprise.

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While HPTC customers and early adopters arent reluctant to buy the technology directly from Platform and integrate it themselves, "By and large, the bulk of enterprises will get their technology within packaged software," he said.

He said Platform will continue to push into the enterprise through such ISV partnerships, and currently is working on a number of them that will be made public within the next few months. He declined to name any of the potential partners.

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