In a significant endorsement of grid computing as a compute utility for enterprise businesses, IBM Corp. here on Wednesday rolled out a set of specifications that enable companies to implement grid architectures that embrace Web services.
Presented at the Global Grid Forum, IBM's Open Grid Service Architecture (OGSA) is Big Blue's commercial packaging of the Globus Toolkit.
The Globus Toolkit, developed by the Globus Project, a grid computing research organization, provides technology guidelines to deliver tighter integration between grid computing networks and Web service technologies, improvements to key grid protocols, database support, integration with J2EE, and an array of other grid-oriented features, according to Globus.
In much the same way that open-source vendor Red Hat commercialized and enriched the Linux operating system, IBM will deliver, among other things, its own eLiza self-healing technology alongside the Globus tools.
Speaking here at the Forum, Irving Wladawsky-Berger, vice president of technology and strategy for IBM's server group in Armonk, New York, said OGSA -- and grid computing in general -- solves a number of problems for companies facing the complexity of mushrooming network management tasks, collaborative business processes, outsourcing, and even small-business access to high-end computing facilities.
"The cost and complexity of managing [an enterprise network] are really out of hand. And so anything you can do to help manage it far more effectively is probably one of the most important things [customers] ask for. And these grid protocols allow the sharing of all those resources and allow us to start building applications more effectively," Wladawsky-Berger said.
"Also, in a number of application areas, people have to work in teams, not just in their enterprise but across institutions. The research world works that way, that's why they invented grids," he said.
In engineering, pharmaceutical, and chemical companies, however, there is a lot of work with suppliers, so if they can get much better virtual organization with their supplier, they can design their product that much faster, he added.
"And finally, people would really love to do less themselves and be able to selectively outsource those things that somebody else can do better for them," Wladawsky-Berger said, adding that "outsourcing today is so bloody complicated, that you need a task force to plan [your outsourcing] habits for the next few years."
Part of the flexibility Wladawsky-Berger hopes OGSA brings to enterprises will be the ability to more easily outsource tasks through billable grids and Web services.
Unlike the performance of today's Internet, grid computing architectures and the Web services that run atop them will have to work flawlessly and uninterrupted, Wladawsky-Berger said. Addressing this need, IBM's eLiza "self-healing" technology will work to create what Wladawsky-Berger called "autonomic computing," where evolving applications, failover procedures, moving points of presence for resources in the grid, and the dynamic location of grid resources such as storage are all managed automatically.
"You can't expect a static infrastructure," Wladawsky-Berger said.
While grid developers prefer Unix variants such as IBM's AIX or any number of Linux flavors as grid OSes, Microsoft officials recognize the potential for grid computing to advance their own Web service strategy and thus have endorsed OGSA.
Wladawsky-Berger said enterprises rich with Windows operating systems in their infrastructures also expect the progress of grid computing and Web services to include their Windows OSes, partially explaining Microsoft's early endorsement of OGSA.
Other major players involved with the evolution of grid computing have also offered their endorsements of OGSA, including Platform Computing and Avaki.