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Oracle forms commercial grid consortium

Oracle Corp. officials believe that the success of the grid computing model -- on which it appears to be betting the farm -- depends on standards. To that end, the software maker has started setting up a special consortium to establish standards for grid computing in commercial environments.

Chuck Rozwat, Oracle EVP for server technologies, talked about the plan during the company's annual user group conference, OracleWorld, in San Francisco last week. "We're interested in forming a commercial grid consortium so that together with other members of the industry we can define standards that make up the APIs and functions for the commercial grid computing infrastructure," Rozwat said. "We're well on our way to doing that," he added.

Establishing a standards group for grid computing is by no means a new idea. The Global Grid Forum (GGF), for example, was founded in 1998 for that very purpose. The GGF describes itself as a "community-driven set of working groups that are developing standards and best practices for distributed computing." Oracle is a member of the GGF, as are Sun, IBM, HP, Intel and Microsoft.

But Rozwat said that groups like the GGF tend to focus on grid computing in academic and research environments, not the commercial enterprise environments where Oracle, HP, Sun and others want to apply the model, he noted. The needs of high-end scientific applications are not the same as those of business apps; academic grids tend to be distributed globally and across multiple organizations, while business grids are expected to operate primarily within companies. Rozwat said that a new standards group would help to generate guidelines specifically for enterprises that see the promise of grid computing.

"We're definitely not trying to compete with the Global Grid Forum, and we think some people will be members of both groups," Rozwat said.

Oracle introduced the grid-enabled 10g versions of the Oracle Application Server and Oracle Database at the conference, which was held in San Francisco's Moscone Center last week. The grid computing model links disparate machines, giving users access to their combined computing power, databases and other tools. Oracle believes that grids of low-cost Intel systems will provide enterprise users with all the computing power they need.

Rozwat wouldn't name any prospective members of the proposed consortium during his presentation, but he did say that Oracle has been talking with customers from the biotech, financial services and health-care industries who have shown a particular interest in grid computing. An Oracle spokesperson confirmed that the company is in the process of finalizing agreements with "a number of organizations" that are planning to participate in the consortium. Oracle had no timetable for the group's launch.

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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