Grid computing not ready to break out: expert

Security concerns will encourage companies to limit their use of grid computing to the insides of enterprises for the immediate future, Platform Computing‘s chief business architect said Wednesday.

“”As grids are using IP technology,

the obvious questions that come up around Internet technology are there,”” said Ian Baird, who also serves as Markham, Ont. based-based Platform’s corporate grid strategist. Enterprise grids, where information can be protected, will grow before other grid types because of these questions, he added.

Speaking during a seminar touching on both the potential of grid computing and the obstacles to its adoption, Baird said groups like the Global Grid Forum are working to address grid architecture, infrastructure and standards issues. But he suggested it could be a few years before the public at large is harnessing the power of grids.

Platform is one of the largest players in distributed computing, which serves as the core of grid computing. Distributed computing allows a group of computers to effectively pool their computer cycles, making computing more. Grid computing enables the sharing of data and applications as well as power across organizations and continents, and as such it requires more advanced resource management and security capabilities. For example, mutual authentication has to be ensured before organizations would share resources across the grid.

“”Grids are really being used by early adopters, in research communities and in a few major corporations,”” said Compaq Computer Corp. director of high performance technical solutions Ty Rabe, adding deployment of grids to date has been limited.

Debra Goldfarb, International Data Corp. worldwide systems and server group vice president, offered a number of grid deployments examples. These include The Boeing Co., which is using the technology as part of a consortium developing a new sub-supersonic aircraft, and an archiving and analysis of breast cancer image data derived from 2,000 hospitals in the United States.

Goldfarb also cited security as an obstacle to widespread Grid adoption, along with the problem of resource management.

“”There have to be policies to restrain access,”” she said. “”You need sophisticated resource management as sort of the backbone to the architecture of the grid.””

She also said it was crucial for grids to have interoperability standards that accommodate components from multiple vendors.

“”Companies trying to build grids around proprietary architectures will have a difficult time,”” she said.

Rabe added bandwidth limitations to the list of hurdles, but added it would not hamper the ability of users to access computational power.

“”The bandwidth will be a constraining factor in the growth of grids,”” he said. “”High bandwidth, low latency applications won’t be running on grid.””

Still, Goldfarb said grids hold enough potential that high-tech heavyweights like IBM Corp. Intel Corp., Compaq and Sun Microsystems Inc. are all staking claims to grid computing.

“”All of these companies see the grid as where the computing paradigm is moving,”” she said.

She said the potential of grids lie in their ability to enable optimization and access of resources and in the dynamic nature of the grid itself.

“”The dimensions of a grid are created by people or organizations. A grid can morph based on shifts in policy,”” she said. “”We’re really only now at the cusp of understanding what is possible in the future with grid computing.””

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