Majitek Brings Services to the Grid

By Nicole Hemsoth

March 5, 2007

In this interview with GRIDtoday, Majitek Director of Marketing Rob Cumming discusses his company's Grid application platform, Software-as-a-Service and Device- as-a-Service solutions, as well as where he sees the future heading in terms of Grid and virtualization intersecting in the service-oriented environment.

GRIDtoday: To begin, can you explain what Majitek does in the area of Grid computing? What is the flagship solution?

ROB CUMMING: Our primary product is GridSystem. Essentially, it's a hybrid application server/Grid computing platform. We've taken the concept of the traditional grid, filing out work across a set of computers, as a concept in terms of distributing load or parallelization of computational processing, but really we've tried to bring that concept into a much more general-purpose, Java application runtime environment. What we're trying to do is extend the concept of what a standard application server would be able to do for a single application and enable the software developer to break the application into individual components, which obviously lends itself to a service-oriented approach to software design. Once we've got a much more granular ability to deploy individual service components, we can then virtualize them across multiple CPUs, and then parallelize the number of instances of each component available to gain either throughput or processing power. We're basically allowing you to break an application or, in fact, multiple applications, into component parts, to pour them into a single virtualized environment and then parallelize either throughput or processing power per component. It gives you a much more fine-tuned, granular ability to tune performance, optimize utilization of CPU resources and enable high throughput to bottleneck aspects of an individual application. And then we have the whole [easy-to-use] interface that makes it simpler for an administrator or IT people to manage an application environment, therefore reducing costs, as well.

Just to draw a final parallel, I guess some of the areas the traditional app server companies are moving toward — like a distributed application platform or a virtualized extension on top of their existing application server environments — we have that inherently within the architecture of our platform, so we have a much simpler footprint to deploy.

Gt: What do you think customers looking for in a Grid environment, and how do you address those with GridSystem?

CUMMING: Obviously, the traditional concept with Grid is to try and get parallelization of a compute-intensive task. So, you've got scientific-style … where you have a problem to solve and you need to distribute the load of that problem across multiple CPUs and parallelize that to get results fast. That's the traditional sense of Grid. We're looking at the concept probably more from an enterprise application perspective, where … the move is to start to expose middle-office and back-office functions out through a Web portal or Web application and suddenly having hundreds of thousands of concurrent users trying to access the same piece of business logic. It's causing a sort of glass ceiling on some of their application environments, so they start to have these scale, performance and high availability bottlenecks they're hitting with the traditional Web-based application environment.

We're bringing this concept of Grid computing and virtualization and being able to break down these applications into more granular service components to enable them to achieve a high-performance, highly available and, probably, high- throughput style of application environment, but for a much lower cost than if they were to try to gain that high availability or scalability by just throwing hardware at the problem or putting these more complicated clustering scenarios on top of their existing application server environments. We're just seeing a lot of complexity and a lot of moving parts in these deployed environments, and then the costs associated with that complexity, and we're really trying to provide that capability, but with a single application platform environment.

Gt: How do Majitek's other solutions play into this architecture?

CUMMING: Extending on the base platform, we have a number of more targeted, or application- or function-specific, products. We've got a Device-as-a-Service platform, EdgeSystem, which is about abstracting the concept of a device and representing it as a software service. Now, device middleware is not an unknown concept to people, but by being able to represent a physical object as a software service, we can then deploy that onto our Grid platform amd make it highly scalable, highly available and all the other properties inherent in our Grid platform. That allows to connect together [a center network] — very large, distributed system problems that have lots of physical information points that need to be integrated together — and then you can lay a control system application or business logic on top of that to send command control to those software objects.

The key problem we're solving there is trying to make a very simple, easily encapsulated means for integrators and software deveolpers to represent a physical device and its control capabilities. It is then made a simple software object that can be deployed on our Grid platform, which can then scale up to the millions or hundreds of millions of devices with a fairly low footprint in terms of server infrastructure to maintain that very complex system.

Gt: What about your Software-as-a-Service offering?

CUMMING: On the other side of that problem, we see customers who have a totally integrated environment that is deployed and fully distributed and millions of people can access that environment and all of the connected actors within the system, and the first thing they want to do is control the use of and access to all those different actors and systems and pieces of software. Really, what we're doing with our CloudSystem product is applying the concept of digital rights management to a software object — that is any software object that's deployed on the grid and, by extension of that, any device that is connected as software object. When we apply the concepts of digital rights management, we can say, “Well, look” — at a very basic level — “this particular user is able to access or view this software object.” They might be able to control it, to consume it, to download it, press buttons, etc., within that particular component. Once we have the ability to control rights, we can put a billing or a transactional capability around the use of that object, as well.

The concept of Software as a Service is just controlling the use of a software object and then putting a transactional or billing event around the use of that object. By linking these three concepts together, we can basically charge for the right to use very-wide-area networks of these devices. We can solve a wide variety of problems within these three spheres of capabilities. We … lower TCO of very complex applications that have extreme transaction processing requirements; we have the ability to integrate very-wide-area networks of hundreds of millions of devices and then control them; and then we have the ability to sell software objects or control the use of software objects and devices from a central point.

We're applying these inherent infrastructure platforms in a number of ways … I don't know about you guys, but certainly climate change is driving a need for people to monitor and report in realtime the emissions of things or the precipitation of water or the flow of electricity and things like that. They need to do that at a national scale, aggregate all that information together and bring it into some sort of enterprise-class application, which would then provide reporting, monitoring, etc.

On the other side, we're seeing these very large telcos moving out of their traditional voice-based services into triple-play and multi-service operations, where they've effectively moved to a fully IP-based network environment. They're then looking to sell services, which are essentially software objects, much in the same way Google has this massive grid full of software objects that they allow people to use for free. They have an ad revenue model based around that, and we can kind of do the same thing, but we also can do a DRM, music download- style of billing model around the access and use of software objects or devices. We could charge per click … which is kind of another concept that certainly is of interest to our more forward-thinking customers. We've done a lot of work in looking at the concept of digital communities and “smart cities” and how a telco or multi-service operator would monetize or provide service to these smart communities, and the smart homes and smart devices within the communities.

It's a fairly broad portfolio and market of opportunity that we have, but our primary, underlying driver, which allows us to provide a cost-effective solution to our customers at these sorts of scale points, is this underlying, distributed Grid platform that really allows you to bring the utilization of your server infrastructure up to a massive scale: from your traditional 10 percent up to 80 or 90 percent and run it hot, [with automatic failover]. There's basically zero downtime in that scenario. If you try and build these sorts of extremely large systems using the traditional three-tier architecture approaches with hardware- based clustering and that kind of stuff, you just get this ridiculously expensive server and network infrastructure cost associated with that scale point. We try to bring that down to the application platform level, where every piece of software that's deployed on the platform has inherently high availability and linear scalability. You can scale both throughput and processing linearly, it's distributed across a WAN, it has security of messaging across the WAN — all of that is inherent in the platform so that any software application or component that you drop on top of that platform has those qualities provided to it for free. And then you can connect it to a device and bill for it, so you have the business ecosystem that is required around that, as well.

Gt: Can you speak about what markets you're targeting for Majitek's solutions?

CUMMING: In terms of the markets and the sorts of people we're selling this stuff to, I guess … anyone who is exposing a back-office piece of functionality over the Web, and who has a very large customer base, is going to need high availability, high throughput and will need to be able to scale cost effectively. Those sorts of customers are going to be new media, telco, anyone who is running an ISP, finance, banking, etc. All of these [types of businesses] are providing traditional services (via software applications) to a much larger number of people because they're connecting via the Web rather than having only their internal staff access something.

E-banking is one example, where they realized that they need to make a function that typically would be accessed by 20,000 tellers in banks to scale up to 3 or 4 or 5 million customers directly via the Web. … To enable them to scale their infrastructures to deal with the peaks and spikes associated with this model is extremely expensive using traditional three-tier application environments, so you tend to want to use a more distributed, more dynamic load distribution architecture that lends itself to what we classify as a Grid application platform. We're able to distribute load dynamically, where the entire application runs virtualized across an entire grid of computers, as opposed to a traditional grid, where you might have a master worker and you farm things out from a central point. [In our platform] every CPU within the grid is live and running in realtime, and is available to any one of the service components that is deployed on it.

Gt: How are you doing in attracting customers? Do you have a nice number on board?

CUMMING: We've been in R&D since 2000-01, and over the last year and a half we've been actively out in the market selling the product, primarily in the APAC region because that (Melbourne, Australia) is where we're based. We have another office in Singapore and a small point of presence in the U.S., too, but that hasn't been our primary focus so far. We've got a reasonable number of customers at the moment; they're mid-range and a couple of blue chips. We find that we get inside some of these organizations and it just grows because once people are sold on the fact that this platform works, they're like, “OK, let's put everything we've got onto it and we'll get these enormous cost benefits out of it.” As a result, we've got a small number of “big dip” customers at the moment, and it's been really positive, to be honest. The proof is in the pudding once you show people how it runs. They get quite excited about it.

Gt: Do you see the future of Grid computing heading down your path of Grid application platforms, extreme transaction processing, etc.?

CUMMING: It's interesting. I've been reading some of the articles that have been put out recently around the term “Grid” and use of the term “Grid,” and one of the things we probably struggle with is attempting to define the name of what we are in the market. You could say it's a virtualized application platform, it could be a distributed application server … we kind of run with the terminology Gartner has put out there (Grid application platform). We really believe that people want to apply the benefits of pooling and sharing resource infrastructure, which is kind of the concept of virtualization, but they also want to get this performance capability that comes from parallelization of tasks, and that lends itself to Grid computing.

The major vendors — IBM, BEA, Oracle and those guys — are all pursuing a virtualization strategy. Some of them — Oracle, specifically — have gone out there and said, “This is a grid,” and named one of their layers as “Grid Control.” I think these guys are bumping around in the same market space, where so many people have claimed that something is “Grid” or something is virtualized and have muddied the waters somewhat. Even the term “service-oriented architecture” is being thrown around everywhere in a marketing sense. Where we see the concept of Grid computing going is to take the concept of parallelization and combine it with the concept of virtualization and then bring it into a generalized application or platform environment that makes it as easy for an IT administrator to deploy their apps or services onto this platform as it is to deploy Tomcat — although I wouldn't say deploying some of the current application servers is particularly easy, especially when you do it in a distributed sense.

We're focused on trying to make our platform simple to use, simple to administer, and simple to develop applications and put them on top of it. If it's easy to get the benefits of the Grid and the virtualization in that same environment, that's where we're focusing and driving. I would hope there is some direction moving toward that, and we do see a lot of indicators with people wanting to move down these pathways.

Gt: Do you see any specific vendors as competitors in this market?

CUMMING: In the APAC region, we really don't go up against companies per se. There is a comparitive architectural approach to the way we build our platform in the GigaSpaces offering, although we see those guys probably more focused in the JavaSpaces or distributed data space, whereas we're more of an application platform. We see them probably moving down that pathway, as well, but we've never gone head-to-head with those guys in a customer relation. Appistry kind of says the same thing about what their product does, and the GridServer product from DataSynapse seems to do the same sorts of things that we do, but those guys seems to be having a lot of success in doing like an application virtualization extension to, say, BEA. They've got GridServer, and then they've got an app server product, which seems to be batch up model application server instances and coordinate them, which is similar to the virtualization strategy IBM is taking with WebSphere XD. I think BEA is building its own virtualized layer, [as well]. All these guys seem to be heading down this pathway, but the DataSynapse guys are probably the closest competitor, along with GigaSpaces and maybe Appistry.

Gt: What kind of adoption rate do you see for companies who would stand to benefit from your solutions or similar solutions? What's the market like?

CUMMING: I think it's very emergent, our particular piece of this market, but if you look at the enterprise application server in market, it's about $5 billion per annum. IDC and Gartner will tell you different numbers, but it's a multi- billion-dollar per year market. There is a general shift, as technology and the underlying requirements of the customers lend themselves more to lower costs, scalability, dynamism, etc. The architectural shift is moving toward this virtualized and then parallelized requirement, so we would see that offerings such as ours will get more airtime as traditional application platforms hit the wall or the glass ceiling in the way they'll scale or perform.

I think, also, that one of the things we're seeing in telco and new media is that Google is just kicking everyone's ass, and they're doing so because they have an unbelievable underlying architecture, which is based on distributed systems and Grid computing, to just drive down the cost of how they can deploy new services into the market and manage them centrally. So, anyone who is a telco or new media company and wants to run multiple apps or services, or who wants to be an ISP and run them for other people, almost have to look at these types of architectures because they're just proven time and time again by Yahoo! and eBay and Google.

We've kind of seen the successes of those companies and driven off their technology base, kind of filtering down into the enterprise market, and the enterprise guy is going, “Geez, you know what? Maybe Google wouldn't build their application this way. They'd use a grid or a distributed architecture,” so they're more willing to investigate alternatives to the standard offerings.

We're always going to be fighting against the “no one ever gets sacked for buying Oracle” mentality in the enterprise, but there are companies out there who are hitting the wall — and are doing so pretty quickly — or they've had a disastrous experience with some existing technology, and so they're willing to have a try with something new. Once you get it in there … they're not willing to go back.

Of course, we also work side-by-side with the major vendors, as we're an additive technology. Within an enterprise architecture there are going to be certain hotspots where you're going to need these qualities, and that's where we fit. We play very happily beside all the other vendors who are in the mix.

Gt: What's on tap for Majitek in terms customers, partners, products, etc.?

CUMMING: From a product perspective, our marquee product, GridSystem, is the driving force behind all of our development; the CloudSystem and its sister products illustrate some of the more vertical application capabilities we're building on top of that platform. We have a number of different, more specific requirements that see from our customers that we are building as extensions or models on top of that platform. So, that's the future direction: the underlying platform will always get more features, but there will be certain, specific requirements that some customers will require and we'll build specifications on top of that.

From a customer perspective, we've had some great successes over the last year or so, and so we're getting a lot of interest from, basically, the halo effect around those successes in the APAC region. We're building up our sales and marketing capabilities as a company and are getting much more focused on getting out into the market and selling. That's kind of a natural extension of a company that's moved beyond its inception stage.

We had predicted three years ago, and I think we were way ahead of the market, that some of those concepts I was telling you about earlier where you've got a device as a service or you're actually selling the use of that device as a service [would begin to take off]. There are much more sophisticated business models, but I think we're seeing more and more commercial operations asking us whether they could apply that within their businesses. So, I think on the commercial side, we'll probably start to see some of those more horizon business models coming out. We'd be happy to sell some interesting telco-style solutions toward the end of this year.

—–

To learn more about Majitek, see www.majitek.com.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

What’s New in Computing vs. COVID-19: Fugaku, Congress, De Novo Design & More

July 2, 2020

Supercomputing, big data and artificial intelligence are crucial tools in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Around the world, researchers, corporations and governments are urgently devoting their computing reso Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

OpenPOWER Reboot – New Director, New Silicon Partners, Leveraging Linux Foundation Connections

July 2, 2020

Earlier this week the OpenPOWER Foundation announced the contribution of IBM’s A21 Power processor core design to the open source community. Roughly this time last year, IBM announced open sourcing its Power instructio Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Career Notes: July 2020 Edition

July 1, 2020

In this monthly feature, we'll keep you up-to-date on the latest career developments for individuals in the high-performance computing community. Whether it's a promotion, new company hire, or even an accolade, we've got Read more…

By Mariana Iriarte

Supercomputers Enable Radical, Promising New COVID-19 Drug Development Approach

July 1, 2020

Around the world, innumerable supercomputers are sifting through billions of molecules in a desperate search for a viable therapeutic to treat COVID-19. Those molecules are pulled from enormous databases of known compoun Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

HPC-Powered Simulations Reveal a Looming Climatic Threat to Vital Monsoon Seasons

June 30, 2020

As June draws to a close, eyes are turning to the latter half of the year – and with it, the monsoon and hurricane seasons that can prove vital or devastating for many of the world’s coastal communities. Now, climate Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

AWS Solution Channel

Maxar Builds HPC on AWS to Deliver Forecasts 58% Faster Than Weather Supercomputer

When weather threatens drilling rigs, refineries, and other energy facilities, oil and gas companies want to move fast to protect personnel and equipment. And for firms that trade commodity shares in oil, precious metals, crops, and livestock, the weather can significantly impact their buy-sell decisions. Read more…

Intel® HPC + AI Pavilion

Supercomputing the Pandemic: Scientific Community Tackles COVID-19 from Multiple Perspectives

Since their inception, supercomputers have taken on the biggest, most complex, and most data-intensive computing challenges—from confirming Einstein’s theories about gravitational waves to predicting the impacts of climate change. Read more…

Hyperion Forecast – Headwinds in 2020 Won’t Stifle Cloud HPC Adoption or Arm’s Rise

June 30, 2020

The semiannual taking of HPC’s pulse by Hyperion Research – late fall at SC and early summer at ISC – is a much-watched indicator of things come. This year is no different though the conversion of ISC to a digital Read more…

By John Russell

OpenPOWER Reboot – New Director, New Silicon Partners, Leveraging Linux Foundation Connections

July 2, 2020

Earlier this week the OpenPOWER Foundation announced the contribution of IBM’s A21 Power processor core design to the open source community. Roughly this time Read more…

By John Russell

Hyperion Forecast – Headwinds in 2020 Won’t Stifle Cloud HPC Adoption or Arm’s Rise

June 30, 2020

The semiannual taking of HPC’s pulse by Hyperion Research – late fall at SC and early summer at ISC – is a much-watched indicator of things come. This yea Read more…

By John Russell

Racism and HPC: a Special Podcast

June 29, 2020

Promoting greater diversity in HPC is a much-discussed goal and ostensibly a long-sought goal in HPC. Yet it seems clear HPC is far from achieving this goal. Re Read more…

Top500 Trends: Movement on Top, but Record Low Turnover

June 25, 2020

The 55th installment of the Top500 list saw strong activity in the leadership segment with four new systems in the top ten and a crowning achievement from the f Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ISC 2020 Keynote: Hope for the Future, Praise for Fugaku and HPC’s Pandemic Response

June 24, 2020

In stark contrast to past years Thomas Sterling’s ISC20 keynote today struck a more somber note with the COVID-19 pandemic as the central character in Sterling’s annual review of worldwide trends in HPC. Better known for his engaging manner and occasional willingness to poke prickly egos, Sterling instead strode through the numbing statistics associated... Read more…

By John Russell

ISC 2020’s Student Cluster Competition Winners Announced

June 24, 2020

Normally, the Student Cluster Competition involves teams of students building real computing clusters on the show floors of major supercomputer conferences and Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Hoefler’s Whirlwind ISC20 Virtual Tour of ML Trends in 9 Slides

June 23, 2020

The ISC20 experience this year via livestreaming and pre-recordings is interesting and perhaps a bit odd. That said presenters’ efforts to condense their comments makes for economic use of your time. Torsten Hoefler’s whirlwind 12-minute tour of ML is a great example. Hoefler, leader of the planned ISC20 Machine Learning... Read more…

By John Russell

At ISC, the Fight Against COVID-19 Took the Stage – and Yes, Fugaku Was There

June 23, 2020

With over nine million infected and nearly half a million dead, the COVID-19 pandemic has seized the world’s attention for several months. It has also dominat Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Supercomputer Modeling Tests How COVID-19 Spreads in Grocery Stores

April 8, 2020

In the COVID-19 era, many people are treating simple activities like getting gas or groceries with caution as they try to heed social distancing mandates and protect their own health. Still, significant uncertainty surrounds the relative risk of different activities, and conflicting information is prevalent. A team of Finnish researchers set out to address some of these uncertainties by... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Turns Its Massive Crowdsourced Computer Network Against COVID-19

March 16, 2020

For gamers, fighting against a global crisis is usually pure fantasy – but now, it’s looking more like a reality. As supercomputers around the world spin up Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Rallies a Legion of Computers Against the Coronavirus

March 24, 2020

Last week, we highlighted [email protected], a massive, crowdsourced computer network that has turned its resources against the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe – but [email protected] isn’t the only game in town. The internet is buzzing with crowdsourced computing... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Global Supercomputing Is Mobilizing Against COVID-19

March 12, 2020

Tech has been taking some heavy losses from the coronavirus pandemic. Global supply chains have been disrupted, virtually every major tech conference taking place over the next few months has been canceled... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Supercomputer Simulations Reveal the Fate of the Neanderthals

May 25, 2020

For hundreds of thousands of years, neanderthals roamed the planet, eventually (almost 50,000 years ago) giving way to homo sapiens, which quickly became the do Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

DoE Expands on Role of COVID-19 Supercomputing Consortium

March 25, 2020

After announcing the launch of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium on Sunday, the Department of Energy yesterday provided more details on its sco Read more…

By John Russell

Steve Scott Lays Out HPE-Cray Blended Product Roadmap

March 11, 2020

Last week, the day before the El Capitan processor disclosures were made at HPE's new headquarters in San Jose, Steve Scott (CTO for HPC & AI at HPE, and former Cray CTO) was on-hand at the Rice Oil & Gas HPC conference in Houston. He was there to discuss the HPE-Cray transition and blended roadmap, as well as his favorite topic, Cray's eighth-gen networking technology, Slingshot. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Honeywell’s Big Bet on Trapped Ion Quantum Computing

April 7, 2020

Honeywell doesn’t spring to mind when thinking of quantum computing pioneers, but a decade ago the high-tech conglomerate better known for its control systems waded deliberately into the then calmer quantum computing (QC) waters. Fast forward to March when Honeywell announced plans to introduce an ion trap-based quantum computer whose ‘performance’ would... Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

Neocortex Will Be First-of-Its-Kind 800,000-Core AI Supercomputer

June 9, 2020

Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC - a joint research organization of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh) has won a $5 million award Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

‘Billion Molecules Against COVID-19’ Challenge to Launch with Massive Supercomputing Support

April 22, 2020

Around the world, supercomputing centers have spun up and opened their doors for COVID-19 research in what may be the most unified supercomputing effort in hist Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Australian Researchers Break All-Time Internet Speed Record

May 26, 2020

If you’ve been stuck at home for the last few months, you’ve probably become more attuned to the quality (or lack thereof) of your internet connection. Even Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

15 Slides on Programming Aurora and Exascale Systems

May 7, 2020

Sometime in 2021, Aurora, the first planned U.S. exascale system, is scheduled to be fired up at Argonne National Laboratory. Cray (now HPE) and Intel are the k Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia’s Ampere A100 GPU: Up to 2.5X the HPC, 20X the AI

May 14, 2020

Nvidia's first Ampere-based graphics card, the A100 GPU, packs a whopping 54 billion transistors on 826mm2 of silicon, making it the world's largest seven-nanom Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

10nm, 7nm, 5nm…. Should the Chip Nanometer Metric Be Replaced?

June 1, 2020

The biggest cool factor in server chips is the nanometer. AMD beating Intel to a CPU built on a 7nm process node* – with 5nm and 3nm on the way – has been i Read more…

By Doug Black

Summit Supercomputer is Already Making its Mark on Science

September 20, 2018

Summit, now the fastest supercomputer in the world, is quickly making its mark in science – five of the six finalists just announced for the prestigious 2018 Read more…

By John Russell

TACC Supercomputers Run Simulations Illuminating COVID-19, DNA Replication

March 19, 2020

As supercomputers around the world spin up to combat the coronavirus, the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) is announcing results that may help to illumina Read more…

By Staff report

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This