Grid Forum, New Productivity Initiative join forces

The quest for a common standard for distributed grid computing gained significant ground on Thursday as the Global Grid Forum (GGF) and the New Productivity Initiative (NPI) announced that the two organizations will pool their efforts to accelerate grid computing in the enterprise.

The result will be a new GGF fortified with NPI's entire technology catalogue, including NPI's grid design models, according to representatives of the GGF.

"We hope that this collaboration will result in an increase in industry participation and drive grid computing to the next evolution of its development in the enterprise," said Ian Baird, president of NPI, in a statement.

The NPI began two years ago to forge an open API specification for distributed resource management between mixed-vendor devices, an effort key to making a distributed, heterogeneous grid computing environment work. NPI members range from Compaq Computer Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. to SGI and Platform Computing Inc. Organized in 1998, the GGF promotes the development of common overall standards for grid computing.

The GGF/NPI bonding occurs at a time when a great deal of effort is being made to foster grid computing for the enterprise.

Sun Microsystems next week is expected to announce the wider availability of its Grid Engine 5.3 software to Linux customers, according to sources familiar with the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company's plans. The open-source operating system continues to be a catalyst for grid computing as more users realize the reliability of Linux in server clusters -- a common server fabric within grids.

Software technology company Javera next week will roll out improvements to its Elemental IT Automation Platform (ITAP) Server and the OpForce IT Automation Suite. The technology can control, provision, update, and automate a wide range of mixed-vendor devices in a network, and the company is targeting grid implementations and even utility computing architectures with next week's release, according to representatives of the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company.

Platform Computing this week added vital business intelligence technology from Cognos to its rapidly evolving grid computing software. Platform will manufacture Cognos' reporting and analysis tools including Cognos' PowerPlay and Upfront, which help companies manage complex compute environments such as grids, according to Platform computing representatives in Toronto.

Already popular in scientific and academic communities, grid computing is a technology literally waiting for the appropriate messaging, load-balancing, automation, and security standards to make it widely compatible with the needs of enterprise companies.

Meanwhile, some businesses already are beginning to recognize the value of computing grids for their capability of optimizing all of the resources within an enterprise network, according to Robert Batchelder, a research director at Gartner Inc. in Stamford, Conn.

"Grids are making the transition from the lab and to the workplace," Batchelder added.

Going forward, the collective efforts from the new GGF, industry vendors, and companies that deploy early grid computing environments will ultimately take the industry to a point where grid computing actually begins to resemble something of a compute utility for users.

"The Internet is in the process of transforming itself into a number of persistent networks that are going to simultaneously co-exist, and in some ways interoperate," Batchelder said. "The Internet is going to become a persistent transactional grid, a persistent collaborative grid, a persistent content grid, and a persistent computing grid.

"So much computational power is going to exist in the Internet that it's going to, in many ways, be perceived as a computational resource," Batchelder explained.

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