Industry association gets to grips with grid

A group of more than a dozen IT vendors Tuesday announced the formation of the Enterprise Grid Alliance, an organization designed to develop and promote solutions around grid computing.

The EGA’s board of directors includes HP,

Oracle, NEC, Sun Microsystems, EMC, Network Appliance, Fujitsu Siemens Computers and Intel. It purports to be a vendor-neutral organization, with a focus on interoperability and sharing best practices.

“”There is no controlling entity, there are no members for life, there are no members that cannot be voted off. . . . This is a truly level playing field,”” said Donald Deutsch, president of the EGA and vice-president of standards strategy and architecture at Oracle.

“”The basic model for this organization is royalty-free licensing. That’s an advantage that this organization has over some other bodies — the members are companies and they’re making a promise to deliver licences necessary for patents that are required to implement the specs,”” added Jim Hughes, director of software standards at HP.

The three tiers of membership are board members, who will oversee the process and participate at every level; contributor members, who will vote for the board and participate on working panels; and associate members, who will act in a largely observational role.

At last year’s OracleWorld conference, Chuck Rozwat, executive vice-president for database server technologies, first announced that the company was interested in starting up an enterprise grid group. Deutsch said that the EGA has spoken to notable companies not in the preliminary line-up like Microsoft and IBM and invited them to participate.

The group will use existing specifications from other forums in order to develop solutions in a timely fashion. Only in the absence of existing specs will it develop its own. “”The EGA is about time to market, near-term pragmatic solutions to real problems,”” said Deutsch.

The first year of the alliance will focus on enterprise applications like customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource management (ERP).

“”They tend to be very data-centric. They tend to have terabytes of data, so that makes it very challenging to provision these applications,”” said Benny Souder, vice-president of distributed database development in the server technologies division at Oracle. “”We don’t feel that any other organization has a real focus on these kinds of applications and we think these kinds of applications are critical to enterprise computing.””

A second phase, after a year to 18 months, will concentrate on technical grid applications, and a third phase will look at operating grids between organizations.

The group said it is open to working with other industry associations and standards bodies in order to make its grid solutions as open and interoperable as possible. Those associations could include the W3C or the Global Grid Forum. A note on the GGF’s Web site says that the organization is considering the best way to collaborate with the EGA.

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