Oracle first proposed a commercial grid consortium in September, and the Enterprise Grid Alliance is the fruit of those efforts. In proposing the idea, Oracle raised the hackles of groups already working on grid standards, most notably the Global Grid Forum. "There was some angst initially, but we've tried to assure (the other groups) that we will work with them," Deutsch said.
The Global Grid Forum has a broader focus that includes academic and scientific computing, while the Enterprise Grid Alliance is focussed squarely on the datacenter, Deutsch said. "We are not interested in collecting unused CPU (central processing unit) cycles from widely distributed systems, or in academic and research computing," he said.
In fact, the alliance will work with existing standards groups and adopt their specifications where possible, Deutsch said. A representative from the Global Grid Forum said Monday it supports the work of the Enterprise Grid Alliance so long as it makes a genuine effort to use existing standards.
The alliance is in the process of setting up five working groups and hopes to see deliverables from them in about six months, Deutsch said. They are working on areas such as a common API (application programming interface) for provisioning systems in a grid environment; a common security mechanism; and a new model for billing customers using grid computing. "Now that you have these flexible, scalable, redeployable resources, how do you charge back for that kind of computing?" Deutsch said.
Supporting heterogeneous environments isn't the end goal of all the group's members. For example, Oracle has been encouraging its customers to stick to its 10g family of products to achieve the best results, and it is not changing that position.
"Many of our customers have existing investments in, for example, directories and backup software. So to make their transition to a complete Oracle infrastructure easier and less expensive, we are very enthusiastic about open grid standards," said Bob Shimp, Oracle's vice president of technology marketing.
IDC's Kusnetzky said he's hopeful the alliance will succeed, but noted that similar efforts in the past haven't always been successful. Unix vendors tried half a dozen times to unite under a single banner, for example, but they never succeeded, he said.
"Things could work out perfectly, or things might not work out at all and the organization quietly goes away after a year. We'll have to wait and see," he said.
The alliance planned to launch a Web site with more information Tuesday, at www.gridalliance.org.