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April 2, 2007

The Sum of Grid’s Parts

Derrick Harris

The world of grid computing encompasses many aspects, and I feel that there is quality representation of many of them in this week’s issue. For example, one (oft-forgotten) aspect of grid computing is the hardware resources that comprise the high-performance environments. In our feature article, Tom Gibbs takes a look at the evolution of processors, and how history seems to be repeating itself.

Drawing inspiration from the 1985 blockbuster “Back to the Future,” Gibbs’ article of the same name takes readers on a journey through time, showing how today’s multi-core processors came to be, and how the issues they present for software developers mirror those presented by processor advancements in generations past. Of course, this being GRIDtoday, Gibbs ties the whole issue into what it means for grid computing — and what it means, he surmises, is that grids will become increasingly important as Moore’s Law comes face-to-face with the reality that chip performance can’t grow at exponential rates forever. If you’ve read any of Gibbs’ other articles in this publication, I’m sure you’re just aching to see what he has to say on this subject. If, however, you haven’t been keeping up, this is as good of a time as any to find out what Tom Gibbs is all about.

Moving on to another aspect of grid computing — commercial applications of the technology — we take a closer look at the acquisition of Tangosol by Oracle (which, last I heard, might have been for as much as $120 million). I got a chance to speak with an analyst (Massimo Pezzini of Gartner) and two of Tangosol’s competitors (Geva Perry of GigaSpaces and Sam Charrington of Appistry) about what this news means for them personally and for the industry at large. The most interesting angle in this whole story might be the notion (although Oracle has said as much) that Oracle will use Tangosol’s technology as its foot in the extreme transaction processing door. The market for this type of technology seems to be growing as more and more companies try to follow in the footsteps of Web giants like Google and Amazon, and Tangosol’s Coherence solution certainly gives Oracle a viable, distributed alternative to its traditonal database, which isn’t necessarily cut out for XTP. That said, not everyone thinks Oracle made the best possible decision. And then there is the possibility that other major software players might be spurred into buying similar technologies for themselves. All in all, it’s an interesting story playing out in an emerging market, and although Oracle and Tangosol aren’t talking too much yet, there is a lot to be learned from hearing what the industry has to say.

Of course, these two features are just the tip of the iceberg, as we have stories and announcements spanning the spectrum of grid. On the scientific applications side, we have two TeraGrid announcements (click here and here), and we have more hardware news with Dell’s Cloud Computing System. Moving on to Web services, we have two security specs being ratified as OASIS standards, and AMD supporting distributed management. In the world of high-speed research networks, we have ORION upgrading its infrastructure, and on the storage side of things, we have Oracle and Sun transforming data warehousing by offering solutions comprised of technology from both vendors.

Looking forward, expect to see more on why DataSynapse has moved away from “grid,” as well as some lead-in coverage of the upcoming OGF20/EGEE User Forum, which promises to be a highly attended and, hopefully, very productive event. On that note, I should point out that there are a lot of conferences coming up in the next few months, and potentially a lot of news, and we’ll do our best to make sure we not only cover the news coming out of them, but also offer deeper insight where possible.

So, until next week …


Comments about GRIDtoday are welcomed and encouraged. Write to me, Derrick Harris, at

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