Grid Goes Open Source

Could open source provide the impetus that grid computing needs? IBM and startup Univa think so

October 6, 2005

3 Min Read
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Users have been voicing concern about the complexity and cost of grid deployments for some time. But could open source software provide the answer?

IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) and software startup Univa Corp. clearly think so. The two firms used this weeks GridWorld conference in Boston to announce a partnership likely to boost the profile of open source grid. (See IBM, Univa Ink Globus Deal.)

Up to now, grid computing reality has not always matched the hype. In theory, the technology lets users share applications and data across their IT infrastructures, but lack of standards and skills, along with costs issues, are cited as major hurdles by users. (See Grid Computing: Baby Steps and Software Licensing Gridlock.)

This prompted industry group GlobusAlliance to develop an open-source middleware toolkit for building grid systems and applications, but, again, many users lack the expertise needed to actually apply this to their own infrastructures. (See Vendors Form Globus Consortium.)

Enter Univa. The startup is currently planning a range of software tools for installing, managing, and configuring the Globus middleware, backed up by services and support. (See Grid Startup Hits the Source.) This week, IBM effectively rubber-stamped this approach by announcing plans to license Univa’s software for its own servers and internal systems.Whether open source grid software emulates the success of Linux depends on how many other vendors follow IBM’s lead. Rich Miller, Univa’s COO, tells NDCF that deals with other firms are already in the pipleline. “But none that we’re talking about,” he adds.

But Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT Research, warns that there is still a degree of uncertainty amongst grid users. “Some vendors are promoting their own proprietary products for grid implementations,” which is causing a degree of confusion, he says in a note. King cites the example of Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL), which is “aggressively marketing” its 10g software as a grid enabling product.

That said, King believes that IBM is putting its money where its mouth is by teaming up with Univa. “This may not be as lucrative a strategy as driving customers toward proprietary solutions,” he says, but he adds that the deal is "particularly notable" in the drive towards open source grids.

Vendors at this week’s GridWorld were falling over each other to woo users with grid success stories. Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI) (NYSE: SGI), for example, revealed that the Australian Partnership for Advanced Computing (APAC) is using Altix servers. (See SGI Supports APAC .) Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) announced that electronic trading system Prediction Company has successfully trialed its financial services technology on a Sun grid, and IBM unveiled two new customer wins with Higo Bank (Nasdaq: SUNW) and Unicredit. (See Prediction Completes Grid Trial and IBM Launches Grid Solutions.)

A slew of other firms also used the Boston conference to unveil new software offerings, including DataSynapse, Absoft Corp.,and SAS Institute Inc. (See DataSynapse Intros FabricServer, Absoft Offers Grid & Grow, and SAS Automates Grid .)— James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-Gen Data Center Forum

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