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March 5, 2007

Where the Future Lies

Derrick Harris

A few months back, we ran an article discussing the emerging fields of Grid-based application platforms and extreme transaction processing, and shined the light on two companies Gartner has pointed to as lead companies in the space: GigaSpaces and Appistry. However, that same Gartner report also mentions Majitek, a Melbourne, Australia-based company whose solution portfolio, when deployed within the same datacenter, resembles the offspring of a lurid tryst involving Grid computing, virtualization and SOA. So, in the interest of balance, this week, we give you Majitek.

I was able to speak with Rob Cumming, the company’s director of marketing, about all things Majitek, including what the company’s solutions actually do, the future direction of Grid computing and, interestingly, what companies he sees as his main competition. Cumming also commented on the internal debate over what to call their GridSystem product and its underlying technology in the face of “Grid” backlash — a topic on which I shared my thoughts last week. In the end, Majitek went with Gartner’s terminology of “Grid-based application platform” and, to hear Cumming tell, isn’t suffering as a result. Not that it should be surprising: The irrelevancy of terminology aside, Majitek’s product line is pretty unique, especially in the land down under. It is my belief that these Grid-based application platforms are the future of commercial Grid computing, and when you throw in Device as a Service capabilities, you have something not too many other vendors can claim to match. Intrigued? Read the whole interview to see what Cumming has to say.

I also was able to speak last week with IBM’s Robin Willner to get an update on the IT giant’s altruistic World Community Grid. In just over two years, the initial projects are already seeing results, and it looks like we have a lot more to look forward to in terms of seeing the grid lead to something tangible. I know these projects can seem like a dime a dozen (a pretty fair assessment, actually), but they really do serve an important purpose. If Willner’s statistics are correct, the World Community Grid is pumping out about 1,000 years of computer runtime per week — and that is no small thing when you’re trying to analyze and model every protein in the human body or map future climate change. Willner also gives some figures on the total number of members and devices, and offers a glimpse of what’s on tap in terms of projects (hint: climate change).

I’m going to refrain from commenting on two other interesting announcements in this week’s issue (“e-Science IDs New Weapons in Superbug Battle” and “GXS Launches Trading Grid 2007“), as we will have more news on them in future issues. As for the latter, I got a chance to speak with GXS Chief Technology Strategist about the technology behind the Trading Grid, and it’s pretty interesting stuff, indeed. And, speaking of what to expect in the weeks to come, I’ve been speaking with a source close to Grid-X, a startup company whose name has been popping up in a few articles recently. Well, we saw their press release, too, but we’re looking to take it one step further, with an exclusive interview where we’ll learn a little more about the company’s 100 GbE offload engine. Stealth mode companies are notoriously tight-lipped, so we’ll see how much information they’re willing to share. Stay tuned …

Comprising the rest of this week’s issue, though, we have several noteworthy announcements, including United Devices supporting IPv6, HP virtualizing blade networks, OASIS focusing on eBusiness and a whole lot of news from last week’s Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Conference.