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*Yet Another Grid Computing Standards Body

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Griddle me this. Is there really a need for another grid computing-focused organisation?

Some 20 companies think the answer is 'yes', with a number of the largest IT players coming together this week to form the Enterprise Grid Alliance (EGA). The new consortium, including Oracle, HP, Intel, EMC and Sun, is the latest body to try and capitalise on technology that links groups of servers, storage systems and software together to process common tasks. But even with the group's impressive backing, a number of industry observers have charged that enough work is already going on with various grid groups and that adding a new body will only dilute investments in the promising technology.

"I'm just not clear why we need yet another consortium defining grid standards or promoting grid adoption in vague ways," Jonathan Eunice, an analyst at Illuminata, told The Register. "It reminds me of BIC, another group that seemed principally to associate its members with the glow of a promising, next-generation technology - regardless of their real work-a-day involvement with the new approach. That was e-commerce, this is grid, but beyond that, the script seems the same."

For some time now, companies such as IBM, HP (especially Compaq) and Sun have backed the work done by the Globus Alliance - another grid standards body. All of these companies make use of the Globus Toolkit in their various grid computing offerings to help spread software jobs across numerous servers and storage systems. Most of the early users of Globus have come from the scientific community with research institutions harnessing massive amounts of compute power for complex tasks.

New focus, honest

The founders of the EGA say the time has come to focus on moving grid computing into the data centers of corporate customers as well. Instead of concentrating on DNA sequencing, for example, the 20 vendors want customers to us grid computing for CRM, ERP and financial applications.

The EGA started as the brainchild of Oracle and appears to have gained fairly wide acceptance from major industry players. A full list of the backers is available here. The only problem is that two key players - and Globus backers - IBM and Microsoft have yet to join the EGA party.

"Yes, we've been talking with IBM. Yes, we've been talking to Microsoft. Yes, we've been talking to SAP," Donald Deutsch, president of the EGA, said during a conference call with reporters. "We've encouraged all of them to come to the table."

We're pleased that discussions have been held, but, at present, neither Microsoft nor IBM will commit to joining the new group.

Along with being backers of Globus, Microsoft, IBM, HP, Intel, Sun and Oracle also back the Global Grid Forum (GCF). This group issued a fairly terse statement on the formation of the EGA.

"As a global forum, GGF has the representation, established venues, and processes in place to address a comprehensive set of issues including standards and lessons learned in deployment. Enterprise Grid Alliance has elected to establish a separate organisation to tackle issues regarding grid deployment in the enterprise. Now that EGA has been formally announced, GGF is having discussions with EGA to determine how to best collaborate in the best interest of the Grid community, in both industry and research sectors."

GCF went on to pledge to work with EGA "to understand their objectives and plans". You have to wonder how hard this will be since both groups have almost identical memberships and work on almost identical projects. Can you blame Microsoft and IBM from being hesitant to spend money discussing things with themselves?

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