January 18, 2011

Univa Revving the Grid Engine Revival

Miha Ahronovitz

There is finally a happy ending to the Grid Engine saga following Oracle’s formal acquisition of Sun in January 2010, which I described in my post The Fate of Oracle’s Grid Engine.

Word of this pleasant conclusion arrived today via a press release from Univa, stating, “the principal engineers from the Sun/Oracle Grid Engine team, including Grid Engine founder and original project owner Fritz Ferstl, are joining Univa.”

This is music to the ears of all people who are (and were) involved in grid computing, and now cloud computing since its emergence a decade and a half ago.

Perhaps the press release does not say it all, however… Univa is now home to the most capable and experienced Distributed Resource Management  (DRM) team in the entire world.

Univa’s founders  are the” fathers “ of grid computing: Ian Foster,  who has been described as “one of the rock stars of grid computing” as well as other heroes of HPC, including Carl  Kesselman and Steve Tuecke.
Univa will be acquiring significant expertise, including Fritz Ferstl, who will serve as the company’s Chief Technology Officer and direct Univa’s technology strategy and its burgeoning EMEA push.

As the former product manager of Sun Grid Engine, I had worked with Fritz Ferstl and his engineering team in Sun, and earlier in Gridware and Genias  for fifteen years. Fritz  is not only an extraordinary software architect and visionary.  He delivers software with a legendary Bavarian precision. He has a rare capacity to see the essence in every project and to manage impeccably the details at the same time.

The CEO of Univa, Gary Tyreman, is one the brightest and most business savvy cloud DRM executives around .  Bil Bryce, VP products is ex-Platform Computing (like Gary, like me) one of the stars in DRM technology and behind the creation of Univa’s  cloud management product.

Fritz’s mentor is my mentor–Wolfgang Gentzsch, the original founder of Genias. Wolfgang, by the way, wrote detailed article on the announcement today called, “Grid Engine Finds Safe Harbor at Univa” with details about the history and role of Grid Engine in grid and cloud computing.

I would like to refer from now on to Univa’s Grid Engine (UGE), as DRM software. It’s fashionable to call any software that does some virtualization or round-robin scheduling, “cloud software” and perhaps we should just call UGE cloud software, even though many realize it is much more than that.

It is the heart of a compute intensive cloud and at this moment, it handles the essential load balancing and resource allocation of some of the most complex clusters in the world. A cloud is nothing but a grid that can “burst” on demand and bring in additional nodes, memory, etc. required to keep the users’ service level agreement constant. The notion of high low priority that grid administrators allocate to happy or un-happy users is replaced by a billing metering system. Unlike grid computing, users will pay per use for the privilege.

This is all fine and dandy, but without a robust DRM, a cloud will not perform at peak. Whether we call the cluster a grid or a cloud, it has more to do features related to the business model of clouds versus grids. But for building solid, production, reliable, peak performance clouds, UGE will be the best ingredient.

Univa’s  Grid Engine will revitalize a market for robust DRM software, whether used in Univa’s own Data Center and cloud product line  or by any provider of private and hybrid clouds.

Before In wrote this last paragraph, I googled the sentence “Do you like Grid Engine?” I got 301,000 results in 0.11 seconds. Let me clarify: three hundred and one thousands in one tenth of a second.

I don’t know whether to praise Google or to praise Grid Engine’s revival first. Google already has plenty of praises—but Grid Engine’s revival is one the nicest event to witness and celebrate.

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