2003 InfoWorld Innovators: Ian Foster, Carl Kesselman, and Steve Tuecke

The leaders of the Globus Project are pushing the limits of grid computing and taking it to the enterprise with the Globus Toolkit

Testing the limits of grid computing are three researchers who have been leading the Globus Projectsince its inception in 1995, designing the most prominent grid architecture and releasing the accompanying open-source Globus Toolkit for building grids.

"The intent of the project was to look at how we could exploit the increasing availability of high-speed networks to basically create a revolution, if you will, [in the way] that applications are built and the way people use computers," explains Carl Kesselman, director of the Center for Grid Technologies at the University of Southern California School of Engineering.

He and Ian Foster, a professor of computer science at Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago, are co-directors of the Globus Project. Joining them is Steve Tuecke, software architect at Argonne National Laboratory and lead architect of Globus.

"The way that we typically refer to a grid is it's an environment that facilitates sharing of services and resources and capabilities across organizational boundaries to make it possible to do entirely new and different types of things," says Kesselman. Grid computing is intended to enable virtual organizations that collaborate across organizational boundaries. This, according to Kesselman, is typical of how work will get done in the future.

Grid computing has already been used in scientific applications such as subatomic particle research, but the Globus Project researchers see its potential in the enterprise for applications such as financial services and data warehousing. "We're starting to see substantial commercial adoption of various grid computing software, the Globus Toolkit included," says Tuecke.

Vendors such as IBMare taking an interest in grid computing and broad adoption is anticipated, Fosternotes. "I'm assuming that [grid] will be a ubiquitous part of our computing and network infrastructure just like the basic Internet protocols are today," he says.

Grid, according to Tuecke, will be applied all over the place, from technical computing to cycles consumption and clustering. The latest release of the grid toolkit is enabling development of the Open Grid Services Architecture, which adds Web services integration technologies to the grid mix, says Kesselman. "What Web services gives us is a much more widely deployed platform on which to build grid technology."

(For profiles of the other nine 2003 InfoWorld Innovators, see Honoring the Innovators.)