Grid Computing Chokes on License Regs


Grid computing is being hampered, says new research from The 451 Group. And it’s because IT departments can’t afford to buy software licenses for every processor or device in a grid for each application they intend to run on that grid.


Grid software creates efficiencies in computing
systems by simultaneously applying the resources of many computers in a network to a problem.


Unfortunately for consumers and vendors, purchasing licenses for every chip
or machine in a grid is a requirement under current licensing schemes, said
Steve Wallage, director of research at The 451 Group.


The traditional model becomes impractical in high-performance computing
scenarios that involve thousands of machines, such as Montecarlo simulations
for financial firms, he said.


“The way the current software pricing works — per processor, per device, or
per user — is antithetical to the whole ideal of grid, where you’re working on
multiple devices,” Wallage said in an interview Thursday. “You want the
maximum flexibility. You’re not going to be working on the same device all
of the time, or in the same way.”


The problem is that current enterprise software licensing models have been
built around dated notions of enterprise application use, creating a
quandary for enterprise IT managers who want to run grid applications.


But if customers can’t afford to run the applications, it causes a major
problem for companies who either make grid computing software, or support it
with servers. HP, IBM and Platform Computing are among a number of
vendors that make such software or hardware and stand to be adversely
affected by the dilemma.


Demand for and interest in grid environments isn’t decreasing, so something
needs to give. Evolving computing requirements in the industry will lead to
new procurement models in the software space, as well as demands for
instrumentation and management to support new license models, Wallage
predicted.


“We see a lot of pressure but we don’t really think there’s going to be a
revolution as much as the users would like to see that,” he continued. “The
thing that will change it more than anything is when one of the larger
vendors like IBM really tries to encompass grid into its licensing model,
which is something that they are really looking at.”


Part of the evolution is a move to more utility computing environments,
something that is already starting to take off in vertical industries, such
as financial services, or in pharmaceuticals for drug discovery, thanks to
strong marketing pushes from IBM and Sun Microsystems.


The challenge will be to offset the potential loss of revenue for vendors
with greater value and lower cost for customers, The 451 Group said.


In the meantime, companies are circumventing the licensing issue by using
applications they developed based on open source software; coaxing custom
deals from vendors; or by paying a premium for one or two applications
integral to the business.

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