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HP extends grid initiative

Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. advanced its grid computing initiative last week with the launch of a new grid-centric consulting unit, and the declaration that it will integrate emerging grid computing standards into its enterprise products in the near future.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company disclosed plans to integrate grid computing standards such as the Globus Toolkit and Open Grid Services Architecture (OGSA) across its enterprise product lines "over the next few years." The open-source Globus Toolkit is the first full-scale implementation of the Open Grid Services Infrastructure (OGSI). OGSI is part of the Open Grid Services Architecture, which was developed through the Global Grid Forum to define Grid services, which are Web services that conform to a specific set of conventions.

HP officials also said the firm has created a consulting group within the HP Services organization to provide management, deployment and life-cycle support for grid architectures. The consulting services are intended to help HP customers deploy and manage their own grids, according to company officials. The program will also offer customers the option to purchase an ongoing grid-related support program from HP. Pricing was not disclosed.

The grid computing model calls for the linking of disparate machines across corporate, institutional and geographic boundaries, giving users access to combined computing power, databases and other tools. HP began developing what it calls "grid-like infrastructures" more than five years ago. It now considers grid computing to be a critical piece of its evolving utility-computing strategy, which it calls the Adaptive Enterprise. As HP sees it, grid computing will enable enterprises to draw on IT resources anywhere in the world to meet their increasing needs for dynamic computing resources.

"Grid is an important piece of the HP Adaptive Enterprise strategy," said Shane Robison, HP's chief strategy and technology officer.

HP's current grid offerings include:

* Enterprise Grid Consulting from HP Services: A new offering said to allow customers to utilize the expertise of HP Services when applying the concepts of grid computing to commercial environments.

* Grid Software Infrastructure: Building on the HP OpenView platform, this model is said to extend the capabilities of the software up through the management of Web services to deliver comprehensive real-time business process intelligence and enable immediate IT resource response in the context of Web services or grid services.

* HP Utility Data Center (UDC): The HP UDC can deliver many grid capabilities to commercial customers today and is compatible with OGSA standards.

* Grid Resource Topology Designer: An innovation from HP Labs, this graphical user interface allows users to simply and easily "draw" resource needs, and then submit the requirements to the grid for fulfillment. The Grid Resource Topology Designer, working with the HP UDC, can then automatically decide on the appropriate resources to deploy to fulfill the service-level request.

* Web Services Management Framework (WSMF): HP and its partners are formalizing this framework, a logical architecture for the management of resources, including grid and Web services. WSMF was recently submitted to the OASIS Web Services Distributed Management Technical Committee as input into creating a standard management interface for all IT resources and services.

* SmartFrog: A technology developed by HP Labs, Smart Framework for Object Groups (SmartFrog) enables administrators to configure resources easily on the distributed computers that make up the grid.

"For CIOs, the grid can help to better synchronize business and technology demands in real time," said Robison. He said the firm has committed to grid-enabling all of its systems, ranging from the smallest handhelds, printers and PCs, to high-end storage arrays and supercomputers.

Analysts have estimated grid software and services will become a $4 billion market by 2008, but HP expects the opportunity to be significantly larger as corporate IT departments embrace the grid.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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