ROBUST, INDUSTRIAL-STRENGTH TOOLKIT KEY TO ENTERPRISE GRIDS

By By Derrick Harris, Editor

January 31, 2005

HP is one of the charter members of the Globus Consortium, a newly-formed industry group dedicated to the promotion of the Globus Toolkit for use in the enterprise. GRIDtoday editor Derrick Harris recently spoke with Sara Murphy, HP's Grid marketing manager, about the company's role in the group and about the effect a robust Globus Toolkit will play in the future of enterprise Grid computing.


GRIDtoday: How would you define HP's role in the Globus Consortium?

SARA MURPHY: HP is one of the founding sponsors, and Jim Hughes of HP is on the Globus Consortium board. Jim is one of our senior people who is involved in a breadth of standards work. The fact that HP has Jim on the Globus Consortium board is an indicator of how important and valuable HP views the consortium's efforts. HP will advise on directions and specific projects, and be active in working groups, if the consortium should have working groups. In general, we intend to play an active role both with involvement and, of course, as a funder of the Globus Consortium.

The work of the Globus Consortium is important because today our educational and research customers use the Globus Toolkit quite extensively. Our enterprise customers need the common code-base to be robust and industrial-strength. We believe it is important to have common infrastructure in the area of Grid infrastructure so our customers have a common industry-standard, heterogeneous Grid environment. The Globus Toolkit is ideal if we can drive it to be industrial-strength.

Gt:Isn't Jim Hughes on the board to the EGA, as well? I know the Globus Consortium isn't a standards body, but it seems there could be some overlap — or as [Globus Consortium president] Greg Nawrocki called it, a “symbiotic relationship.” How would you define the two — the EGA and Globus Consortium? Are they different or akin to one another?

MURPHY: You said Greg talked about synergy between the bodies, and that's a good term. EGA is looking at requirements, use cases and best practices for Grids. The Globus Consortium is focused exclusively on the Globus Toolkit, where EGA is about commercial adoption of Grid technology. We expect EGA will have an interest in having the Globus Consortium be successful in what they do. EGA will be studying market requirements, is studying market requirements, and that could reflect onto the work in the Globus Consortium around what kinds of things we need to do to bring “industrial strength” to the Globus Toolkit.

Gt: What is it specifically about the Globus Toolkit that brought so many competitors together as founding and charter members of the Globus Consortium?

MURPHY: There is a large community using Globus today. We believe it is important to offer a common toolkit to our customers, Globus already has a broad base of users in the research community. Interoperability on Grids is absolutely essential and to try to have any kind of differentiated offerings down at that level would be divisive rather than helpful to our customers. We really want, at the level of infrastructure that Globus provides, to have a common infrastructure across the industry.

Gt: You spoke about having a large base of users in the academic and research fields, Greg mentioned that one the goals of the consortium is to figure out how many companies are using the Globus Toolkit in the enterprise. Does HP have a lot of its enterprise Grid customers using Globus?

MURPHY: Today, the users are all educational and research customers. We are working and investing in the Globus Consortium, in particular, to bring the level of robustness of the Globus Toolkit to the level where it will meet the needs of the industrial customers.

Gt: I haven't seen a whole lot of HP in the news regarding Grid solutions in the past year, or in the past six months even, but HP always seems to be a charter member of industry groups. What exactly is HP's strategy in enterprise Grid? Can we expect to see solutions announced in the near future?

MURPHY: Grid technologies are an integral part of the HP Adaptive Enterprise offering. Today, though, Globus version 2 is not yet Web services-based, and while it's open, it's still proprietary and not yet appropriate for service-oriented architectures. When Globus version 4 is in place and industrial-strength, then we're going to see more deployments. We really see what's coming along with WS-RF, WS-DM and WS-M standards to be a valuable enabler of our Adaptive Enterprise.

Gt: Back to the Globus Consortium: it is one, including EGA and GGF, of the groups that is really trying to push the idea of enterprise Grid computing. When will these efforts pay off and we will start to see widespread adoption of commercial Grids?

MURPHY: We'll start to see things really grow and build once we have a robust version of Globus version 4-based WS-RF and Web services standards. Then it's going to take time from there to build credibility. We're talking about a journey, not something that is going to happen in the real short term. But the long-term value and potential is enormous.

Gt: Finally, what is HP's pitch to end-users who are interested in Grid technology? How will the company's involvement with the Globus Consortium help strengthen that pitch?

MURPHY: Today, when we talk to customers about Grids, we point out the value of the flexibility, the adaptability that comes from having flexible access to resources across geographies and organizations. We talk about accelerating time to market for new products by having access to resources. We talk about being able to collaborate across partners and customers, along with organizations across one's own company.

Beyond this, having a standard infrastructure in place across the industry will be enormously valuable. That's what all of us who are involved in the Globus Consortium effort are pushing for.

Gt: Any closing thoughts?

MURPHY: I wanted to point out that HP has made an ongoing commitment to Grid-enable our entire product line, from the smallest handheld devices, PCs and printers to the largest servers. We have ported the Globus Toolkit to our server platforms and in addition, we're doing some interesting research and advance development around services on handheld devices. We have a project called “Grid-Lite,” which will be discussed at GlobusWORLD. We also have a demo so you can see where our thinking is going about extending Grids beyond the types of platforms we're seeing today.

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