Grid computing is a noteworthy topic, particularly this week, with formation of the Enterprise Grid Alliance by Oracle, Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems, and others.
Platform Computing has been providing software to enable development of grids and is watching the activities of the Enterprise Grid Alliance with interest. Recently, InfoWorld Editor at Large Paul Krill discussed grid computing with Platform Computing’s Ian Baird, vice president of marketing and chief business architect, to talk about the so-called politics of grid, standards, obstacles, and the possibility of markets emerging for compute cycles based on grids.
InfoWorld: What is your definition of grid computing?
Baird: For the purpose of the studies that we’ve been doing and for a broader definition around grid, because there’s still considerable debate about grid, I at this point am defining grid or working on a definitional document at the Global Grid Forum with a number of different industry vendors, trying to find a consensus definition. We refer to grid in a very broad sense [as] any sort of distributed or cluster computing that involves the virtual pooling of IT resources.
InfoWorld: What do you mean by the politics of grid and how this has changed recently?
Baird: Last year we did a study on the market and asked some 50-plus multibillion-dollar corporations, the CIOs and others, about the issues or barriers to grid computing. One of the biggest barriers that we discovered was that there is a group of what we call non-technical issues related to grid computing, and effectively that turned out to be organizational issues or what we described as “the politics” of grid. The issue there is really that people are unwilling to share their resources.
What companies built out, in many cases, is a very siloed world of compute resources, where one department or one group has their set of compute resources and therefore their particular jobs that support their particular business department and that’s it. And if you’re going to deploy a grid, then you want to start connecting these various departments and start harnessing the resources across multiple groups and tapping into the power that the aggregated virtualized consolidated resources bring.
In the case of politics, then, what happens is most people feel -- and this came out in our study last year and again this year -- is that the politics are a significant issue. Last year, 89 percent of the respondents to the study said that organizational politics were an issue for grid computing, that people are afraid that they will lose control or access to their resources. People felt that there are risks associated with enterprise deployment of compute resources, they felt the risk of loss of budget or dollars, loss of priority for their projects, etc. In those contexts then, there enters politics and people making reasons why they can’t share their resources, why they can’t aggregate them and virtualize them. And that’s what we call the politics of grid.