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June 23, 2008

Microsoft’s Velocity Means Big Things for Digipede

Derrick Harris

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that one of the big winners from Microsoft’s Velocity project likely will be Digipede, whose .NET-based grid computing solution will be an ideal complement to whatever product emerges from Velocity. And, wouldn’t you know, Digipede President John Powers took note on his blog, writing, without going into specifics, that I “nailed it.”

Well, I couldn’t let him off the hook that easy. I wasn’t expecting a full product integration strategy this early in the game, but I needed to know more about what Velocity actually will mean to Digipede. So I gave him a call.

Regardless what happens, Powers said, Velocity is only good news for Digipede — and the overall .NET community. “The better the .NET platform gets for building high-performance applications, the better for us,” he says. “That’s what we’re all about.” Whereas the Digipede Network is focused largely on “compute-intensive, largely independent kinds of applications,” Velocity will let users remove data-centric bottlenecks from their application infrastructures, leading to lower latency and faster access to data — areas in which Powers acknowledges Digipede provides only rudimentary capabilities.

The fact that it is coming from Microsoft doesn’t hurt, either. “Certainly, folks can make use of other caching or data grid types of technologies,” said Powers, “but the fact that this is coming from Microsoft all nicely packaged and integrated with .NET is great for all our core clients, which are .NET developer types.”

When it comes to how Velocity and the Digipede Network will work together, Powers said the company is talking to customers about how they want to use Velocity (surprise, surprise, Digipede’s financial customers are showing the most interest), and a direct integration within Digipede’s software is a real possibility (depending on Microsoft’s ultimate licensing/pricing scheme for the product). He added that Digipede already has the software up and running in the lab, and will have samples out this month showing customers how to use the two solutions together.

As for when Microsoft will have an official product release, Powers is as clueless as the rest of us. Although this is a pretty high-functionality release, he said Microsoft won’t likely make any big moves before getting a good amount of customer and developer feedback. Whenever a production-ready product comes out, though, Powers notes the importance of Velocity coming out of the SQL Server group. This means Microsoft is not just targeting HPC applications with Velocity, but all apps that need scalability and performance, which is “exactly consistent with our approach.”

I couldn’t resist from asking Powers about how the Digipede-Velocity combination will fit into the cloud computing space (insofar as it will enable massive scale, and real-time access to data and computing resources), but he wasn’t quite ready to bite. A nibble at most. We could fit into “cloud high-performance computing,” he said, and Digipede actually is speaking with a couple of potential partners around using Digipede to grid-enable existing datacenters a la Sun’s Network.com. “The Windows side of that business has lagged for a long time, there hasn’t been a good Windows offering in, sort of, renting out CPUs by the hour,” said Powers, adding that “If customers want to do it, we’re going to facilitate it.”

In terms of internal cloud computing (“things that we would have called ‘grid computing’ [in the past]”), where you’re trying to facilitate a greater number of applications on a Digipede grid, Velocity will be a great help, he said.

A Little Gossip

I’m not a huge fan of unfounded rumors from sources who ask to remain anonymous, but this one is pretty interesting. A little bird told me that FastScale Systems (whom we recently featured) is now taking merger and acquisition bids, and that it has received at least on bid — from Sun Microsystems. Neither company would offer a comment on the rumor, but a Sun representative did tell me via e-mail that “Sun is better positioned than at any point in its history to service the needs of its customers and is continuously evaluating potential acquisitions and other investment opportunities that complement our strategic and financial objectives.”

However much truth is behind this rumor, the reality is that FastScale’s technology would be a boon to any big-time vendor serious about advancing the virtualization discussion (something Burton Group analyst Chris Wolf suggested might happen when I spoke to him about FastScale). FastScale claims its Composer suite can more than triple the number of VMs a physical server can house, and it allows for nearly instantaneous server provisioning thanks to its unique component registry.

Looking Ahead

For those of you interesting in cloud computing, be sure to check back in next week, when I will share my thoughts about and experiences at Structure 08 — the first conference dedicated to cloud computing, featuring leaders from nearly every major player in the cloud market.

Also, I’ll be stopping by Layered Technologies’  LT PACT conference here in Las Vegas, and I’ll be doing a little reporting from that event, as well. Layered Tech has been on the leading edge of hosting companies offering virtual private datacenters by leveraging 3Tera’s AppLogic software. (Speaking of 3Tera, check out Dennis Barker’s look at its groundbreaking new Cloudware initiative: “Interface to the World Wide Cloud?“.) It will be interesting to hear what’s on the horizon for Layered Tech, and how that all plays into this new cloud/utility-centric world.

Elsewhere in this Issue

Be sure to check out the following features and announcements: “Servers Get Multiple Personalities”; “Overstock.com Implements Oracle Coherence Data Grid”; “GlaxoSmthKline Supplies Cancer Genomic Data to caBIG”; “Red Hat MRG (Messaging, Real-Time, Grid) Now Available”; “Ciena Leads Transition to Service-Driven Networks”; and “Dell Quad-Core Opteron Servers Tops for Virtualization.”

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Comments about GRIDtoday are welcomed and encouraged. Write to me, Derrick Harris, at editor@gridtoday.com.