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Oracle, HP, Intel and Sun start YAGCSB*

*Yet Another Grid Computing Standards Body

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But what about the argument that grid computing needs to be pushed out of the research sphere and into the enterprise?

"Globus and GGF definitely started in the technical and scientific computing space, but there's nothing about the current grid toolkit or OGSA (open grid services architecture, ie merger of Grid and Web Servcies) that is specific to high performance technical computing (HPC)," Illuminata's Eunice said.

In fact, if you believe the hype from HP, IBM and Sun, commercial grids are being deployed every day - with ease - incredible ease.

For its part, Sun plans to continue work with Globus but also hopes the EGA can develop betters ways for complex software packages to work together. Sun, and others, want developing EGA specifications to tie in with other specs developed the SNIA (Storage Networking Industry Association) and the APIs of fledging software makers in the virtualization market. In this context, the EGA probably makes the most sense.

The vendors appear to be making an early move to try and stop the fragmentation that has occurred in the past with server and storage software. The industry is just now reaching a point where it can agree on a wide range of APIs for managing hardware. This meeting of the minds comes as a new class of virtualization software is rolling out that blurs the line between traditional server or storage tasks.

The EGA could well be trying to make sure grid computing and virtualisation software can mature alongside each other.

But then again, this could be more of a marketing effort than anything else.

"As good as IBM and other companies have been at promoting grid computing, something with more of an enterprise brand may be a good thing for enterprise customers," Shahin Khan, VP of high performance and technical computing at Sun, told El Reg. "The packaging aspect, as superficial as it sounds, can be important."

Khan, however, has high hopes that the EGA can come up with some concrete, standard APIs for improving grid computing.

Give grid a go

But, in total, this new effort looks like a clear way for vendors to try and tempt enterprise customers to give grid computing a try. The technology has been talked about for years and enjoyed only limited adoption with big business. If you're Oracle rolling out a new database - 10g - with the grid brand all over it, you need to drum up a bit more excitement around the technology.

The only problem with the strategy is that the marketing fluff may well get in the way of an already in progress maturing grid market.

"I don't want to deride anyone's genuine efforts to make progress, but neither do I want to see a proliferation of consortia, associations, and alliances needlessly competing for funds and attention," Eunice said.

The EGA promises to prove its worth in the next 12-18 months by rolling out interoperability tests for grid computing products and a plan for bringing Web services to the grid. After that, the group will look at more complex tasks such as running grid computing projects across multiple data centers.

The organization is open to vendors and customers - for a small fee. $50,000 will buy a top sponsorship and a prime place in the feedback loop, $15,000 gets a little bit less and $5,000 lets your company display a banner ad that confirms you know what grid computing means.

The EGA has pledged to release all of its work under royalty free licenses. ®

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Grid and Web Services to converge
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