Executive Interview: IBM's Stuart Feldman On Grid Computing

IT Utility Pipeline editor Kelley Damore spoke with IBM researcher Dr. Stuart Feldman about the future of the Web and how grid computing and on-demand computing will play a role in its future. Feldman is the head of IBM's Internet...

May 26, 2004

4 Min Read
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IT Utility Pipeline editor Kelley Damore spoke with IBM researcher Dr. Stuart Feldman about the future of the Web and how grid computing and on-demand computing will play a role in its future. Feldman is the head of IBM's Internet Technology division and leads IBM's WebAhead project, a team of technologists charged with predicting how the Internet will transform our lives 10 and 20 years into the future. Feldman is also this year's chair of the WWW2004 conference, which starts today in New York. The conference celebrates more than 10 years since the birth of the World Wide Web at the CERN physics laboratory in Switzerland.

IT Utility Pipeline: How do you see grid computing leveraging the vision of the Web?

Feldman: If you go back to the roots of the Internet, sharing applications was what they were doing. Web services and grid services today are doing the same thing. In terms of grid, we are at build-out time. We're getting the standards to perform well and work well. And we're working on security issues. This is the hard engineering time. And it is not a question of whether it will happen but how fast it will get there.

At IBM we have a volunteer internal grid. There are 350 servers that are not permanently assigned and can be used for a grid. The interfaces are standard and because they are inside the company we don't have to worry about security. We're seeing other companies do the same thing and use a grid internally for distribution sharing and management of services.

Web services are another important aspect here. Web services are getting things done for companies and individuals so there isn't a need for a lot of intervention. We're talking a lot about this at the conference -- the semantic Web. The ability to have the right tags on data so when you do a search you are getting the correct information back. One-fourth or more of tags relate to semantics. This is a very important change.So, some of those standards are there: Web standards and Web services are there, and grid is the underlying mechanism for getting the job done.

IT Utility Pipeline: IBM talks a lot about on-demand computing. How does the Web and on-demand effectively intersect?

Feldman: On-demand has to offer end-to-end access so businesses can get the optimization they need. Web services and grid will promote end-to-end architecture and allow businesses to change how they act. The best way to get to this model is with grid and Web services running. The beauty of Web services and grid is that the user won't know this is the way the job is getting done. They will just be able to share services for efficiencies.

IT Utility Pipeline: When do you expect grid and on-demand to be mainstream?

Feldman: A real indication is when the adoption increases exponentially. We're seeing grid and Web services doubling but it is still under the radar. When we see it growing exponentially year over year, then we'll begin to see people take notice. I think it will be visible to the general person in three to five years. It is still young. It was visible to insiders last year.If you are thinking about how to make organizations more responsive, you need to be thinking about on-demand structure. When you do this, you realize IT implementation is in terms of services.

IT Utility Pipeline: What will be the hot topics at the conference this year?

Feldman: The semantic Web and issues about how humans interact with the Web, the interfaces, and accessibility. How do we make a best case for far too much information? Also the implementation of mobility and how you get at infrastructure and data services with the networks changing.

We'll also be talking about the proliferation of the Web. Currently five to ten percent of the population uses the Web. But those numbers will change considerable as the cost to access networks decreases. We will see a wild proliferation with 50 percent using the Web in the next 10 years. Fifty percent is the no brainer. The last fifty percent will be hard where people are in remote villages.

IT Utility Pipeline: You have been there since the beginning. Did you think the Web would be where it is today, 10 years ago?Feldman: No. The first time I saw the Mosaic browser, I though ho-hum. I know how to use FTTP. Then soon after it became addictive. I've watched the Web grow up. It has really been amazing to have been along for the ride.

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