Naming protocol to reduce ‘gridlock’

TORONTO — Avaki Corp. Wednesday will announce its secure grid naming protocol (SGNP) in an effort to further the acceptance of commercial grid computing.

Avaki executives will first present the SGNP, which the company claims provides

scalability, migration transparency and security without a central trusted authority, to an audience at the Global Grid Forum (GGF) here Tuesday, before the formal announcement is made.

“”If the business of grids is going to go in a big way, we’re going to have to have some kind of central connectivity,”” said David A. Fish, president and CEO and Cambridge, Mass.-based Avaki.

Grid computing enables the sharing of data and applications as well as power across organizations and continents. This potential to reshape the IT landscape has attracted both specialized players like Avaki and Markham, Ont.-based Platform Computing as well as industry heavyweights like IBM Corp. and Compaq Computer Corp.

Speaking as part of a “”grids in industry”” panel at the GGF Monday, Cohen Communications Group president Dr. Robert Cohen said he predicts Internet traffic will grow 400-fold between 2001 and 2008 due to commercial adoption of peer-to-peer applications related to grid computing.

Grids are currently being used in the academic and research communities, particularly those involving life sciences and within enterprises of companies like The Boeing Co. But grid players admit trusted security is especially crucial for expanding grid adoption to include cross-enterprise use.

Fish said one of the selling points of Avaki’s SGNP is that it incorporates security information into the name given by the SGNP’s naming scheme, eliminating the need for authentication from a trusted third party. The SGNP, which is security-system agnostic, is also is designed to name resources across locations and administrative domains, regardless of hardware and operating system configurations.

“”We need a naming standard so that we can connect different kinds of grids,”” Fish said. “”And the second point, security is paramount in the enterprise environment.

“”Just as the domain-name system was important to the Web, this is a naming system for everything that we’re going to encounter with grids.””

Avaki also claims its SGNP supports the migration of resources of services by reconnecting the name with the physical address when a resource is relocated. The SGNP, Avaki says, is also scalable to trillions of resources.

“”The reality is these things are going to have to scale like nobody’s business,”” said Michael Miskovsky, Avaki’s vice-president of alliances and partnerships.

Avaki, whose 2.0 grid software is based on the SGNP’s principles, estimates the evaluation process of the SGNP will take about four to six months and that it will probably be “”tweaked a little”” before any final specification is adopted. In the meantime, the company plans to release reference codes against the SGNP’s specifications within thirty days.

“”We benefit by fuelling the growth of grids in general,”” Fish said of Avaki. “”Secondly, we think we’ve done this right, and it’s a significant intellectual contribution to the community. Thirdly, if there isn’t a naming protocol, we’ll end up grappling with (these issues) for years to come.””

Fish’s comments echo a feeling in the grid community that the development of grid computing is far too big for any one company to handle on its own, that successful evolution of grids will require collaboration from several industry players.

“”No one company is going to control the grid,”” Ian Baird, Platform’s chief business architect and corporate grid strategist said during Monday’s panel discussion. “”It’s going to be a group of partners working together and a group of technologies working together.””

Though Platform and Avaki both sell grid software, their applications are often used in conjunction and Avaki is currently working towards a reseller agreement with Platform.

Cohen said grids are not dependent on just one provider of innovative IP, as systems integrators, network providers and application providers are all required to maximize the functionality of grids.

“”If the network provider becomes the sell through, then the network provider would benefit more than the applications provider,”” he said.

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