InfoWorld: How has grid made inroads in enterprise computing beyond its original use in scientific and research applications?
Baird: Grid has made huge inroads into the business side of the equation in that most of the original story around grid, as you pointed out, came from the research, academic, and the very high-performance computing side. What’s now happened in the last number of years is there is a lot of business computing work so you’re talking about analytical work, you’re talking about simulations and other work that is happening on the business side of the house that operate under similar types of attributes to the technical computing. So they often are large batch computationally intensive, resource-intensive work that’s happening. And so as we’ve moved from technical computing to business computing, there is almost a convergence of the needs of those two groups.
Where we’re seeing now is that the business computing environment is where the technology is starting to go and where people are starting to find application for it. But this comes back to the grid-enabling of apps and what people are asking for before those apps can be really used. So you see in the study that we also just completed, we asked people which were the most important apps that they wanted to see running on the grid, and in that case people are asking for database management systems, application development environments, BI and data warehousing, etc. at the top of the stack for applications they’d like to run on the grid. And as more of these vendors are putting these applications into a format that would allow them to work in a distributed computing environment or tap into the power and the capabilities of that grid world, it’s driving more and more acceptance of the grid into the enterprise space.
The other element that’s happening is that as awareness and understanding and more proof cases come out and people start to hear examples of J.P. Morgan/Chase with their platform technology saving millions of dollars by deploying it and getting far faster and more effective outputs, that drives it into the enterprise computing side in a very significant way.
InfoWorld: Do you see a market emerging for compute cycles generated by grid, similar to the electric power grid in which compute cycles would be sold off?
Baird: Yes. We actually look at grid and its ultimate development basically across sort of a three-step process. And the first stage we’re actively involved in at this point is what we call the enterprise grid, which is a grid inside the firewall. So inside a corporation, they’re sharing the compute resources across the corporation, across possibly large geographic boundaries, but still inside the corporation.
A partner grid then is the next phase which typically is grids across mutually trusting organizations. They likely set up a VPN or use certificate authority-type mechanisms to be able to secure themselves, but they’re sharing resources. That is a fairly early stage for the partner grids at this point because there’s a lot of standards and security issues and also just political issues that have to go on when you start going outside of an organization.