Digipede’s Powers: The Next McNealy?

By Derrick Harris

August 14, 2006

The one thing that never ceases to amaze me when speaking with Digipede CEO John Powers is how frank he can be. Some might consider that a bad personality trait to have when trying to make a name for your upstart company; I am not one of those people.

Quite honestly, I think it’s not only refreshing, but somewhat necessary when trying to stand out against the Grid Goliaths surrounding Digipede’s David. As a company, Digipede stands out by specifically targeting small businesses with pricing models the company believes match how these businesses buy IT, and this model doesn’t seem to change drastically for large enterprises. In addition, Digipede has aligned itself with Microsoft. While this union would hardly give one renegade status in other areas, Microsoft was notably absent from the Grid discussion before late last year. As a CEO, Powers stands out by openly speaking his mind.

Not only will he tell you why his product is better, he’ll tell you by name which solutions it is better than. Not only will he tell you what Digipede is doing right, he’ll tell you what other Grid vendors are doing wrong. In fact, when I spoke with Powers recently, he was (I believe) the only vendor representative to speak in less-than-glowing terms of the newly formed Open Grid Alliance. “The progress on standards has been very slow, and I have not heard customers being as optimistic as the participants in that body,” he said. Hardly a vicious attack, but probably (in the near term, at least) a more realistic viewpoint than the utopian visions offered by those involved. That said, Powers did not rule out the possibility of becoming an OGF sponsor member at some point, adding that Digipede will work with any standards body or organization that will help meet customer needs.

In addition, Powers offers up his industry insights (as do CTO Robert Anderson and product manager Daniel Ciruli) in a regularly updated blog. On Powers Unfiltered, he discusses his journey into Grid computing and the partnership with Microsoft, and while he’s not yet threatening to overtake Scott McNealy’s soundbite throne, Powers does offer some McNealyesque opinions. For example, in a recent entry about Linux being the optimal OS for Grid computing (based on an article by an employee of Oracle’s Asia Pacific Linux Business Unit), Powers asks: “By the way — what’s the over/under on Oracle’s continued independent existence? If it’s ten years, please excuse me, because I have to call my bookie.”

If you want to read more of Powers thoughts, I would suggest first reading this week’s article on Digipede, and then checking out http://powersunfiltered.com.

As for the rest of this week’s issue, there is a bunch of news you probably will want to check out, including: IBM providing resources to SURAgrid; United Devices working in oil & gas; Cluster Resources winning a huge Department of Energy contract; EGEE teaming with EELA to do some interesting volcano research; and NCSA active in both providing data management for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope and incorporating social networking tools into the Tobacco Behavioral Informatics Grid.

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