HP to give software to grid developers

Hewlett-Packard (HP) plans to release new open source software for configuring grid applications, the company's chief technology officer told attendees in a keynote presentation at the Global Grid Forum (GGF) in Seattle Thursday.

"We are contributing an HP-developed technology called SmartFrog (Framework for object groups) to the open source community and specifically to the GGF," said Hewlett Packard Chief Technology Officer Shane Robison.

SmartFrog was developed at HP's Bristol, England, research laboratories, and is now being tested as part of the GridWeaver computer configuration project at the University of Edinburgh. "It's a framework for describing, deploying and orchestrating the activities of distributed applications," said HP Laboratories Project Manager Peter Toft in an interview after the keynote.

The software could be used, for example, to configure Web server software so that it could automatically grab more computing resources whenever it needed them, Toft said.

HP has not yet decided when it will open source SmartFrog, which will include a language, a runtime deployment framework, and an extensible set of components that can be defined with the SmartFrog language, but Toft expects the software to be released this year.

"Our intent is to get third parties interested in using the SmartFrog language as a way of describing their applications, and that they build components to fit within the SmartFrog framework," Toft said.

During his keynote, Robison also unveiled a grid-enabled OpenView component called the Grid Resource Topology Designer that HP labs developers are using to manage computer resources within HP's Utility Data Centers. OpenView is HP's system and network management platform.

The Topology Designer is part of a broader HP effort to incorporate grid standards into its Web services management framework, and Robison expects it to eventually be integrated into the OpenView management software, he said.

The lack of management software, particularly for commercial applications, remains the biggest impediment to grid computing's commercial success, Robison said, but he believes that the benefits of grid computing are so compelling that developers will eventually solve this problem. "More than anything else the grid is generating interest in the commercial realm because it has the potential to solve real problems in a dispersed, distributed computing world," he said. "One of the things that the grid will allow us to do is tie the business architecture, through the service level agreements, to the IT architecture," he added.

HP's increased presence at GGF and its public support of the GGF standards are helping to drive it beyond its academic and research roots, said one GGF attendee. "HP has suddenly come into the frame in a very big way, and they are actually embracing the open source model, which is fantastic," said Duncan Johnston-Watt, CTO of Enigmatec Corp. Ltd., a software company based in London.

"Grid has to be more than just scientists in white coats," he said.

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