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IBM, Sun, HP and Intel join on grid development

They have combined forces to bolster open-source development efforts

January 24, 2005 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - IBM, Sun Microsystems Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Intel Corp. have combined forces to improve open-source grid development efforts and accelerate grid business adoption.
The companies announced today that they have formed a consortium to put money and expertise toward improving the Globus Toolkit, the open-source development project of the Chicago-based Globus Alliance. The alliance is a volunteer organization that was formed in the mid-1990s and attracted early grid users in academic and government research.
The new Globus Consortium's "goal is to proactively address the issue of grid computing in enterprises," said consortium head Greg Nawrocki, who will lead the industry group. "Our belief is that open-source is the key to grid in the enterprise."
Initially, the consortium will develop a priority bug-fixing scheme for the tool kit, said Nawrocki, with other development efforts to be detailed later. Nawrocki coordinated Globus Toolkit-based application projects at the Argonne National Laboratory in Argonne, Ill.
Although grid users and analysts had some concerns about the newly formed group, the vendor push to strengthen the Globus Toolkit for commercial enterprise adoption was seen as a largely positive step.
"My first impression is that it is probably a good thing," said Bill Olson, vice president of engineering at Iron Mountain Inc., of this new industry group. "The more stable it [the Globus Toolkit] is, the more attractive it becomes."
Iron Mountain is a Boston-based data protection firm that uses grid technology in its database management.
Getting the four companies involved "is good as long as they adhere to the open source mentality," said Ian Penny, who is responsible for data center technology development at Pfizer Inc., the New York-based pharmaceuticals maker. "It will encourage users to adopt it as a standards-based platform."
"A number of companies want to see the software move forward faster than what is possible by volunteers," said Ian Foster, who heads the distributed systems lab at Argonne and who led the team that developed the Globus Toolkit. Foster is also a founder of the recently formed Chicago-based Univa Corp., which is part of the new group and is providing technical support and professional services for Globus software.
William Fellows, an analyst at The 451 Group in New York, said the consortium might strengthen Globus as well as return it to its open-source roots.
Fellows said that grid users see "a need for a single set of grid standards, not multiple standards or stacks; common APIs for developers to write to; [and] standard ways of getting data into and out of grids." He wondered how the new consortium -- or another vendor group,



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