By By Derrick Harris, Editor

January 31, 2005

GRIDtoday editor Derrick Harris recently spoke with Greg Nawrocki, president of the Globus Consortium, about the newly-formed industry group. Nawrocki laid out the goals for the consortium, and also commented on the absence of Oracle and Microsoft, and the “symbiotic relationship” between the Globus Consortium and the EGA.

GRIDtoday: First of all, what factors led to the formation of the Globus Consortium?

GREG NAWROCKI: Well, you certainly know the history of the Globus Toolkit in academics and science, and the formation of the Globus Alliance, which really bolstered that, so we got some real momentum in our science and academic communities. Then, we started to see traction in enterprise. We've certainly been doing work with IBM on the Grid Toolbox, on Grid Engine Platform, they all have substantiations or uses of the Globus Toolkit in one way or another. So, we really started to think, “How can we do the same thing that we did in the alliance in industry and enterprise?” Hence, the idea of the consortium, to really play on that momentum and push the Globus Toolkit and represent it better in the enterprise.

Gt: What are the main goals of the consortium?

NAWROCKI: At a high level, there are three main goals of the consortium. The first is enhancing the Globus Toolkit … In fact, in this next board meeting we're having, we're going to be discussing some of the things we're going to do, like actual projects to improve and enhance the Globus Toolkit.

The second thing is promoting the Globus Toolkit. That really gets down to raising the profile of the Globus Toolkit in industry and enterprise. We've got a fair amount of traction, but there are still a lot of people who don't know about it, so we're trying to get the word out.

The third thing is education on the Globus Toolkit. I view that as a two-way street. The first part of that is, obviously, educating our members and the community at large, and getting them to understand more about the Globus Toolkit. We also want to answer their questions around the Globus Toolkit. The other part of that is information back into the Globus community.

One of the things we're always asked is, “How many people are using the Globus Toolit? What's your number of end-users?” Those are all data points that we really don't know. As an open source project, you can guess at how many downloads, but you really don't have a concise number of end-users. So, one of the things we're definitely looking at doing is gathering some of that data so we can really represent the Globus Toolkit when we're asked for data behind it.

Gt: What is your role as president?

NAWROCKI: I am the president of the Globus Consortium, so I will essentially be handling the day-to-day administration of consortium. I'll be handling the promotion of the consortium, contacting other groups and potential members, and making sure that the will of the board members of the consortium is satisfied.

Gt: I've read and heard in numerous places that the Globus Consortium is to Univa as the OSDL is to Red Hat. Is that an accurate analogy?

NAWROCKI: Yes, I think that is very accurate. We use that one quite often ourselves.

Gt: Even though the consortium isn't a standards body, there seems to be the impression that there could be a lot of overlap between it and the EGA, and I am wondering on what fronts do you see the two organizations converging and diverging?

NAWROCKI: Instead of the words “overlap,” “convergence” and “divergence,” the word I like to use is “symbiotic relationship.” Groups like the EGA and the GGF, these are all standards bodies, and they're great. They're out there making standards, which is something that we absolutely support in the Globus Consortium — no question. Our belief is that open standards are the key to Grid in enterprise, and wide-scale Grid adoption depends on a standards-based infrastructure. Given that, we've got these groups out there making standards. Our goal in the Globus Consortium, however, is promotion of the Globus Toolkit … The Globus Consortium is not a standards body, but we're here to drive the adoption of those standards. So, we embrace those standards and utilize them in the Globus Toolkit. By promoting the Globus Toolkit in industry and enterprise, we thereby promote those standards.

Gt: There's a lot of talk around the marketing of enterprise Grid computing, and a lot of people think it is just a lot of hype. I am wondering how you think the Globus Consortium, and the Globus Toolkit, can add some teeth to the industry.

NAWROCKI: The neat thing about the consortium is that we've got this product behind us. We've got the Globus Toolkit, which, essentially, has a nine-year history in Grid computing. By actually promoting real work, we're actually going to be promoting the open source Globus Toolkit in the industry and enterprise. So, we're actually going to be doing real work, and I think that says a lot right there.

Gt: You alluded to contacting other members and vendors, and there seems to be some concern in the fact that Oracle and Microsoft aren't involved in the consortium as of yet. So, I'm wondering, do you expect them to join in due time, or are their goals as companies simply different than the goals of the consortium?

NAWROCKI: It's kind of hard for me to speak for both of those companies. Obviously, those are two companies that we're certainly going to contact. We've had traction with both of those companies within the Globus Toolkit. Both of those companies have either utilized the Globus Toolkit at one time or another, or contributed to research of the Globus Toolkit. So, those are two companies that have certainly had a history with the toolkit. Like I said, I can't really speak to what they're going to do, but they are certainly two companies that we plan to approach in the near future.

Gt: What kind of presence do you expect the consortium to have at the upcoming GlobusWORLD conference?

NAWROCKI: A very large one, as a matter of fact. All of our sponsors of the consortium are also sponsors of GlobusWORLD. We have speakers from those vendor companies at GlobusWORLD, and we plan to make a couple of announcements at GlobusWORLD. We are certainly going to be front and center at the conference.

Gt: Since the consortium is dedicated, at least in part, to the commercialization of Grid computing, I am wondering what you would say to potential end-users that are contemplating a move to Grid. Why Grid, and why the Globus Toolkit?

NAWROCKI: One of the things that we've seen in the past, and it is certainly true, and a lot of people say this as well, is: “Grids are built, not bought.” You don't just get a disk off the shelf, load it up and, BAM!, you're Grid-enabled. So, the really nice thing about the consortium is we're going to provide a lot of that education behind the Globus Toolkit, and really try to push this idea that this isn't a simple task, but we're here to help you. I think that's what we're doing to promote Grid in the enterprise.

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