Another area that you see top-line ROI is the service-level agreement delivery. Typically, after deploying a grid, [users] are seeing that they’re losing virtually no jobs. Percent of unplanned down time is virtually nil. The quality of service and the percent of the quality of service increase has been going up significantly. Another area is increased IT resource utilization, so the actual IT resource and the utilization of that resource by the various parties that are drawing on it have gone up by 25 to 75 percent on average.
InfoWorld: What do you see as the technical obstacles grid faces?
Baird: There are a variety of obstacles for grid computing. There are technical capabilities and the technology is existing today to deliver grid computing without virtually any change. However, to get broader-scale widespread adoption of grid, there’s going to be additional work required. And one of those technical areas, or a couple of those technical areas, relate to standardization.
So grid is about inherently heterogeneous environments being integrated together, being consolidated, virtualized, and managed together. And therefore, if you’re talking about Linux connected to NT connected to Unix or IBM hardware with HP hardware with Sun and different applications, then standards are going to be key for how all this interoperability goes on. Standards related to security are going to be key as you move forward.
The next area is that not all applications today can work on a distributed computing environment. That means you need to be able to grid-enable these applications. Given that context, what we’re doing today and do with our customers on a regular basis is understand which applications they do see as targets for grid computing, and then we’re working with the vendors, and we’ve done it with some 100-plus vendors at this point, where we have grid-enabled their applications. That can be as simple as simply writing APIs or it may be more in-depth recoding and changing of the technology that is the software, in that case, to work on this middleware environment.
InfoWorld: What’s happening with standards in grid?
Baird: A lot is happening in the standards space. The central place for grid computing standards is the Global Grid Forum. And in that context then there is a flagship architecture known as the Open Grid Services Architecture, which will eventually be a whole set of specifications for different elements of grid technologies working together: Things like security, how do you deal with data over grid, etc. In the same vein then, one subset or one sub-specification of OGSA has been the Open Grid Services Infrastructure.
And the OGSI specification, which was developed about a year ago, has recently been re-factored to move it to a Web services-based environment, so it is now called the Web Services Resource Framework. And that is moving from a very state-based world that OGSI was to a Web services-based world in a simpler specification that others can work with to, in one area, help people grid-enable applications, amongst other things. And so that technology or that standard has recently come to the forefront only in the last few months, and it will now migrate from the Global Grid Forum over to the OASIS standards organization, which has a more Web services focus, and we’ll continue to track down that one elements of the overall open grid services architecture.