How ISVs Should Approach Grid Computing

By Derrick Harris

October 30, 2006

As I promised a few weeks back, this issue features an article about ISV Callidus, who not only offers a Grid-enabled Enterprise Incentive Management (EIM) solution, but also offers an on-demand version of the solution, which is hosted on the Sun Grid. If you ask me, the ISV community could learn a lesson from Callidus.

For starters, the company doesn’t license its software based on a per CPU model, which instantly makes it a great fit for a Grid environment. When I spoke with CEO Robert Youngjohns, he described the per CPU model as “dangerous,” and, as far as Grid is concerned, I think he’s right. After all, what can kill the notion of running an application over a large grid of computers faster than your software provider hitting you with a staggering licensing fee? Instead, Callidus licenses its TrueComp software based on a “per payee” model, which, essentially, means the more commissioned employees on your payroll, the more you pay. Whether or not you decide to maximize the effectiveness of the software is your problem, Youngjohns said, he’s not going to punish you for being technologically savvy. Plus, if you’re going to Grid-enable your solution, it might make sense to encourage the use of that feature. Call me crazy, but it seems a little shady to offer a feature as part of a service, then charge inordinate fees to use it. Not that that’s stopped anyone before …

Another reason more ISVs might want to take note of Callidus’ strategy is that Grid-enabling your applications isn’t simply a benefit to your customers, but to the company, as well. While I am far from a business expert, it seems almost too logical that providing the best possible product is a fine way to make a name for the company — and probably a few bucks along the way. Say what you want about Starbucks, but they brew a fine cup of coffee. Sure, they could buy some low-grade beans, grind ’em up and call themselves a coffee shop — and probably attain a certain level of success — but they don’t. And that’s why I’ll make an extra stop when I’m craving coffee, even though I easily could have grabbed a cup when I filled up my gas tank. Youngjohns even noted that while EIM is a big deal for a lot of businesses, the market for EIM solutions is pretty light. Which means Callidus probably could carve out a nice share of the market without offering customers the opportunity to speed up their EIM processes by running the application on a grid. But they don’t.

And, finally, with the addition of the Callidus On-Demand offering, the company takes the notion of “choice” to the next level. Grid-wise, Callidus is really showing it knows what’s up, partly because of Youngjohns’ experience at Sun. Regardless the reasons, though, it seems like a sound strategy. Not only do customers get the option of on-demand, for which they are increasingly clamoring, but they get the added benefit of high performance thanks to Sun’s Grid infrastructure. Pardon the cliche, but if you’re looking to move your EIM functions on-demand, Callidus — or so it appears to my untrained eye — lets you have your cake, and eat it, too. While I don’t know much about EIM, I do know a thing or two about Grid computing, and the mere fact that Callidus understands the value it brings to compute-intensive jobs shows the company is doing something right.

I’d also like to comment briefly on Helen Thomson’s article about Grid’s place in the medical field. Helen is currently interning for both GRIDtoday and CERN, and she’s doing a great job when it comes to writing articles based on the conferences she attends. She did a fine job covering the EGEE conference last month, and this piece from the World of Health IT conference is no different. As for the article’s content, I think the health care market is prime for Grid computing. In a field where information sharing is of huge importance, and where tasks like imaging and modeling are so prevalent, Grid is a natural fit. From building data grids to make sure anyone who needs info can get it, to building compute grids that allow imaging tasks to get done in a hurry, I think Grid can change the way medicine is practiced and I’m happy to see there are projects already underway.

As for the rest of the issue, there is a lot of news from Oracle OpenWorld, so just look for “Oracle” in the headline and read away. There are also some interesting announcements coming from big-time research networks Internet2, GEANT2 and JANET. Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that OGF is seeking presenters for its upcoming OGF19 meeting in Chapel Hill, N.C. The organization cannot survive without quality participation from the community, and presenting at its events is a great way to participate. I saw some sessions at GridWorld, and hopefully future OGF events can match that lineup.

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