SAS becomes Grid Computing Forum member

The GGF, whose membership consists mainly of individual researchers, was organized to promote and develop the concept of distributed computing.

SAS Institute Inc.'s membership in the organization coincides with the work SAS already has been doing with SAS Connect, a parallel processing technology used to distribute and run large computational jobs to various computers, according to Tho Nguyen, program manager of data integration at SAS in Cary, N.C.

Industry analysts say membership in the GGF will add credibility to SAS Connect technology. In addition, SAS is a close working partner with IBM Corp., an early promoter of grid computing and a member of the GGF, according to Andrew Braunberg, senior analyst of information security/data warehousing at Current Analysis in Rockville, Md.

"Keep in mind about SAS entering grid. (SAS also has a) tight relationship with IBM, which helps explain (SAS') additional motivation" to join, said Braunberg.

SAS, a business analytics software vendor, is a different player from most of the participants in the GGF, made up of early adopters and some hardware companies.

"Joining GGF certainly demonstrates the mainstreaming of the concept," Braunberg said.

Currently, SAS has a number of customers deploying its grid technology including the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and a major financial institution that manages millions of credit card customers.

"The bank has petabytes of data upon which they want to analyze customer spending behavior in order to offer incentives to these customers went they get to the store," said Nguyen.

While the bank asked not to be named, the NIEHS in Triangle Park, N.C., is another major SAS customer that is on the record as saying SAS Connect has reduced by 95 percent the "total elapsed execution time on key research projects," according to Roy Reter, IT security officer and systems administrator for NIEHS Division of Intramural Research.

NIEHS is using the technology in its genetic research that looks at environmental causes of cancer. According to John Grovenstein, computational scientist at the NIEHS, more computing power is used in this project than in sending a man to the moon.

"If the cure for cancer is to be our Apollo Project of the 21st century, we are going to need the power of grid computing," Grovenstein said.

Membership in the Global Grid Forum will also help SAS share grid research with other industry leaders, said Keith Collins, senior vice president and CTO at SAS.

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