Growing with the Grid

Grid computing, utility computing, hive computing or computing on demand are slightly different ways of describing the very same thing.

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By  Matthew Southwell Published  November 19, 2003

Grid computing, utility computing, hive computing or computing on demand are slightly different ways of describing the very same thing —an architectural approach to creating a flexible technology infrastructure that facilitates the pooling of network, hardware and software resources to meet the requirements of an end user’s business processes.

The overarching aim of the model is to provide these users with IT as a utility in the same way they draw water from a tap or electricity from a socket.

Furthermore, rather than being just the latest iteration of something like the application service provision (ASP) model through which customers received applications on demand, utility computing is designed to work for everything, from CPUs and storage through to software.

And, rather than being the bailiwick of some closeted geeks or the far flung fancy of vendor marketing departments keen to cash in on the latest craze, grid/utility/hive/on demand computing is already in use.

Furthermore, it has found solid support within the technical and scientific fields and is backed by the analyst community, which acknowledges the presence of products capable of facilitating the model and that latter touting the model at every possible moment.

The vendors are obviously pleased with these development and IBM, Oracle and HP, for instance, are spending a lot of time talking about the model and the benefits it can offer.

This, in turn, presents a huge opportunity for the local channel in terms of end-to-end implementations that focus on delivering an infrastructure capable of proving computing on demand.

The more a single channel partner or systems integrator can deliver of this framework, the more enthusiastic a customer will be to retain their services.Such market evolution requires several advancements within the channel.

Those with the bandwidth to deliver end-to-end solutions have to ensure their implementation teams have the skill set with which to operate.

This in turn has an impact on investment in certification and specific training.

For those without the bandwidth, there is still opportunity, but it will require greater transparency and partnering among partners to ensure that the combined team has the requisite skills.

However, before the vendors’ enthusiasm for utility computing translates into implementations for channel partners, both parties have to embark upon a serious education process to ensure that end users truly understand what they are buying into.

Evidence of this need comes from a recent spot poll, which revealed that 57% of the region’s users do not even understand the grid/utility/on demand model.

Meta Group supports this view, claiming that few businesses will embrace the utility computing paradigm until 2006, due to low market awareness of both the technology and the fundamental shift in IT management and purchasing the utility model requires.

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