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Analysts See Big Year for Grid

The coming year will be an important one for grid computing, according to a report by The 451 Group.

Major IT vendors have spent heavily promoting the technology, and with service-oriented architectures (SOA) and utility IT models also on the rise, "the expectation is that 2006 will be the year grid technologies start to cross the chasm into the enterprise," wrote analysts William Fellows, Steve Wallage and Aidan Biggins.

Software licensing and data management remain the biggest obstacles to enterprise grid adoption, they said, and the technology also must prove that it can work for database and transactional environments.

SAP's plans to grid-enable its software could jump-start enterprise grid applications, the report said, and other vendors may follow.

The 451 Group's Grid Adoption Research Service has examined about 150 commercial grids over the last 18 months, tracking users' operational and technical requirements and examining how effective vendors are in meeting these needs.

"What's clear is that as early adopters seek to run additional application workloads on grids, conventional per-CPU software licensing models become increasingly problematic," the analysts wrote. "Metered usage seems to be a common denominator, and 2006 could see users collectively exerting pressure, within vertical markets, on suppliers for change."

Standards are also an issue, the report said. "Thus far, the world of standards has contributed less than zero to commercial, enterprise grid computing," the authors said. Users wants to see common approaches for standardization of the stack, and APIs for issues such as data I/O.

Open source stack adoption of grid computing could help — as could pressure from users. "Major banks have asked Platform Computing and DataSynapse to create a plan to allow their respective middleware to share resources," the report said. For now, the two require dedicated resources.

The analysts also predicted that 2006 "will see the shotgun wedding of The Global Grid Forum (GGF) and Enterprise Grid Alliance (EGA)," but they added, "Even if individual vendor and membership issues can be resolved (they probably can), the hard part will be to reconcile the short-term enterprise goals of EGA with the longer-term global ambitions of GGF."

The two grid standards groups announced in November that they were considering merging.

Another important issue for grid computing is whether the positions of big companies such as IBM, Oracle and Microsoft can "be reconciled within a single grid standards organization," the report said.

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