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Grid computing gains momentum in the enterprise

Grid computing gains momentum in the enterprise

Grid computing's goal of sharing resources is still a plan for many corporate customers; the question is how to get there most effectively.

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Bishop says Wachovia is about halfway through its four-year migration plan. Grid technology essentially supplies the on-demand processing capacity across a range of servers.

Predictions about grid computing's evolution

In 2007, the 451 Group expects several pivotal changes in the IT landscape, including:


• Virtualisation will go mainstream, changing the data centre

• Grid infrastructure will get baked in to support utility computing, and on-demand activities

• SOA will move from experimentation to implementation

• Open-source technology will move up the value chain

• Web 2.0 will morph into Enterprise 2.0 and change how companies interact internally and with others

• Silos will become horizontally integrated resources ('flat IT')

• Virtualisation will allow grids to be absorbed into enterprise fabrics

Meanwhile, developments expected by 2010 include:

• Grid technology will move beyond analytics into mainstream applications

• As virtualisation allows grids to be absorbed into the fabric, the term 'grid' will fade away

• Enterprise utilities will form

• A wide range of providers will offer some form of grid-enabled, utility-type computing, from telcos to IT vendors to systems integrators to Amazon and Google

Source: 451 Group

Meanwhile, New York-based financial services firm Lehman Brothers is using software from Platform Computing for its enterprise-wide grid. But this is not an entirely new phenomenon; Lehman Brothers has been working with grid-like technologies and writing distributed software since 1992, according to Thanos Mitsolides, senior vice president of fixed income derivatives technology and analytics at Lehman Brothers. The firm's derivatives, mortgage and corporate credit risk applications are all running on grid technology.

On a daily basis, there are 500 users of the grid made up of mostly IBM blade servers, running an open-source Red Hat distribution of the Linux operating system, Mitsolides says. The next major stage for this grid computing effort will be the sharing of hardware resources by the derivatives and mortgage groups.

An estimated five-year plan was put in place last year, with computational services running on Platform Computing's Symphony software. In other words, the goal is to move from servers to services. Step 2 will be to share the hardware, using a single platform for all services. "Once everyone is comfortable on the software, it's a small [technical] leap to share hardware, but it's a valiant leap in terms of trust," Mitsolides says.

That's because before the advent of Platform Symphony, users accessed each application as it ran on a specified server or server farm. Now, users will be able to run applications without worrying where the applications reside or whether there's enough capacity available to support demand. In this new world, a range of servers will be used to supply processing power and the software will be "smart" enough to figure out where to run. Mitsolides says this notion of availability on demand has been a difficult or challenging concept for business managers to grasp, believe and trust.

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