Are Grids on the Skids?

Enterprises with grid deployments are delaying expansion plans because of limitations in data management capabilities. That’s the conclusion of a report just released by The 451 Group, an enterprise technology research company.

“At this point, the compute grid is well understood. But much less time has been devoted to getting data where it needs to be, when it needs to be there, as well as to how this process is managed,” said John Abbott, principal author of the report in a statement. Abbot is chief analyst at The 451 Group.

According to the research firm, users are frustrated by the lack of progress from vendors in improving data management and have had to rely on their own resources to successfully manage data on grids . For example, several large pharmaceutical companies told the research firm that they can’t take advantage of grids over a wide geographic area because of complications with data management and the time it takes for processing.

The report said Johnson & Johnson has called on the industry to adopt a common approach to getting data in and out of grids, as well as standard interfaces that application developers can work with.

While traditional data management techniques are well established, the research firm asserts they were designed to run on centralized mainframe or client/server architectures and need to be adapted and extended for grid architectures. Also, new approaches are necessary for the dynamic data management required by many applications, such as those within the financial services industry.

“As it stands now, no single approach — with the exception that a virtualized environment is necessary — or single vendor or group has a leadership position, and no one can address data management on every part of the stack,” said Steve Wallage, director of research at The 451 Group in a statement.

He added, “Grid middleware and scheduling vendors themselves have not ignored data management issues, especially as they seek to address a broader piece of the grid ‘stack,’ penetrate new markets and move beyond high-performance computing grids. The problem is that data management is not part of their core skill set.”

The report examines possible solutions in managing data on grids, from both user and vendor perspectives. It analyzes the approaches of seven users, which have often needed to rely on their own capabilities to successfully manage data on grids. It also analyzes 28 technology vendors.

User case studies include the following early-adopter companies: ABN Amro, Audi, Bear Sterns, GlaxoSmithKline, Markit and Sanofi-Aventis. Competitive assessments were made of a range of vendors including Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Oracle, EMC, Microsoft and SAS.

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