RealTime IT News

New Globus Toolkit 'Enterprise Ready'

The latest version of the Globus Toolkit, the de facto standard for grid computing, appears to be aimed squarely at growing commercial and enterprise interest in grid technology.

Globus Toolkit version 4.0 (GT4) will be formally unveiled next week — not by the Globus Alliance, the scientific and academic group that develops the toolkit and decides what goes in it, but by the Globus Consortium, a group led by IBM, Intel, HP, Sun Microsystems and Nortel championing the use of open source grid technologies in enterprise environments.

Globus Consortium President Greg Nawrocki calls GT4 "the most highly tested, enterprise-hardened version" of the toolkit to date.

The new version is closely tied to Web services standards and was developed in cooperation with OASIS and the Global Grid Forum. Those standards, Nawrocki says, "were not ready for prime time until now."

The new version contains several fixes and enhancements funded by the consortium, whose work is returned to the open source community. The group is also porting test suites and code examples from GT3 to GT4, which it will make available to help users migrate from GT3 to GT4. It also plans to announce a number of projects next week that the group says "are intended to help promote GT4 and open standards in the worldwide enterprise Grid community."

"We're really behind the open source community," Nawrocki said. "We're actively contributing back to the open source Globus Toolkit."

The group sees open source technologies "as a way of spreading the adoption" of grid computing in enterprise environments, he said.

The development of the toolkit remains firmly in the hands of officials at Argonne National Laboratory and the other scientific and academic groups that make up the alliance, but even the toolkit's founders have launched a company to capitalize on the growing commercial popularity of the toolkit.

"Enterprises are increasingly challenged by constricting IT budgets, yet frustrated with proprietary, inflexible systems that remain underutilized," stated Steve Tuecke, the Globus chief architect who serves as CEO of the new Univa Corp. "Since the previous release of the Globus Toolkit, we have witnessed the emergence of many Web services standards that are relevant for grid infrastructure. Expanded support for these standards throughout GT4 enables enterprises to more easily integrate existing IT systems with Globus in order to optimize the use of existing computing, storage and networking resources."

The new "enterprise ready" Globus Toolkit incorporates the latest Web services standards and new security and authorization features.

"Interoperability, flexibility and the freedom to choose the best vendor products and equipment is what enterprise grid is all about," stated Globus co-founder Ian Foster. "The leading enterprise grid vendors and standards bodies are standing behind GT4.0 as the preferred open source software for enterprise grids. By building grids with the Globus Toolkit, and by working with vendors who support the Globus Toolkits, organizations can best align themselves to exploit the full potential of enterprise grid."

GT4 contains a number of new features. It complies with the latest Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I) Web services standards to provide maximum interoperability between different environments. It includes initial support for authorization standards such as Security Markup Language (SAML) and Extensible Access Control Markup Language (XACML) to provide businesses with a foundation for building a secure Web-services enabled grid infrastructure.

GT4 implements the Web Services Resource Framework (WS-RF) and Web Services Notification (WS-N) specifications, which are emerging standards in OASIS backed by vendors for web services enablement of grid and resource management systems. The new toolkit also features sophisticated authorization and security capabilities.

"The Globus Toolkit has seen terrific success in research, academic and commercial high-performance computing environments," said HP's Mark Linesch, chair of the Global Grid Forum. "By continuing to align with the latest grid and Web services standards, GT4 is poised for broader adoption, particularly in enterprise markets where efficient resource sharing and more effective data integration are becoming increasingly critical."

North Carolina-based MCNC, which tests and deploys advanced networking solutions on its North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN) in partnership with North Carolina universities and state government, recently performed testbed work on GT4 with systems set up across the OC48 NCREN backbone. Vendor participants included Cisco, GridWise Technologies, IBM, Network Appliance, Red Hat and Sun.

"GT4 brings in all the standards and interfaces," said Wolfgang Gentzsch, a former Sun official who now serves as managing director at MCNC. "GT4 is much more flexible. It brings in the ability to easily enhance grid towards additional services, like accounting and billing, metering and measuring. Now that a larger part of GT4 is based on Web services, it is much easier to interface and communicate with other tools which are based on the same Web services standards. As a result, more and more commercial tools will be compliant in the near future with Grid services."

IBM has offered its IBM Grid Toolbox based on the Globus Toolkit, and later this fall will announce a version based on GT4. And Grid Engine, the open source project sponsored by Sun, has been integrated into GT4 for a project at Imperial College in London.

"Standards are key to accelerating adoption of grid computing in the commercial marketplace," stated Ken King, IBM's vice president of grid computing. "A key driver of grid standards is the successful implementation and acceptance of Globus with enterprise customers. The new Globus Toolkit 4.0 adds more robust Web services capabilities, enhanced security and powerful authorization features that we believe will be very compelling to our customers as they look at grid as a way to simplify their infrastructure."

GT4 is available for download at www.globustoolkit.org.

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